Major redundancies at the Belfast Telegraph?

More trouble at the Belfast Telegraph. The NUJ Chapel has got wind of an expected 25% cut in the paper’s editorial staff. 16 out of 115 out of the journalist staff have applied for voluntary redunancy, but the management wants more. There has been some speculation that the owners may be getting the title ready for a sell off, whilst keeping the more profitable print business (which prints a sizable proportion of all the incoming titles in Northern Ireland).From the NUJ:

Belfast Telegraph NUJ Chapel today unanimously passed two resolutions in respect of the expected 25pc cut in editorial staff. With particular reference to concerns about excessive workloads for journalists following the cuts, the chapel voted:

1. A motion of no confidence in editorial management over the cuts

2. To initiate a ballot on industrial action including a work to rule

Contact is to be made with members of the advisory board set up by INM after its acquisition of the Belfast Telegraph titles. NUJ officials were also instructed to seek legal advice on commitments given by INM to the competition authorities regarding the takeover of the Belfast Telegraph titles in 2000.

This at a time when sales of newspapers in Northern Ireland have seen a slight upward rise – and as much as 2% in Belfast Telegraph figures. The exception was Daily Ireland’s figure, which drops slightly from 10,467 in the summer to 10,046 for last year.

  • heck

    Lindy Mcdowell?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    I don’t think it’s any big secret by now… Lindy’s popular column will be staying in the Tele.

    Personally, I wish her all the very best, and I hope Lindy has at least one book in her – you haven’t heard the last of this woman, no way!

    Good luck L; we know you take the odd gander at Slugger…!

    :O)

  • Bemused

    The Belfast Telegraph is a sectarian rag. It esclusively uses the geo-political nomenclature of one community (i.e. ‘Ulster’, ‘province’ etc.) while avoiding that of the other (i.e. ‘the North’, ‘the Six Counties’). Good riddance to it.

  • wild turkey

    Bemused

    ‘It esclusively uses the geo-political nomenclature of one community ‘
    (i.e. ‘Ulster’, ‘province’ etc.)

    I think it was in 1988, in the run-up to the centenary of Queen Vics’ royal charter confering city status on belfast that the telegraph ran a front page article, accompanied by a pic of some kids in victorian garb,with a banner headline along the lines of ‘BELFAST IS HAVING A BIRTHDAY PARTY AND YOU’RE ALL INVITED’… conveniently ignoring that for hundreds/thousands of years before 1888 people had lived in Beal Feirste leading meaningful and productive lives.

    in my experience the Telegraph has been a cheap lowest common demonitator rag. oh yeah but it is internationally renowned for its cutting edge investigative journalism over the past 35 years.

    that said I have every sympathy and support for the workers involved, including journos i do not agree with, and hope contributors to this site support the rights of telegraph workers and stick it to sir tony o’r who is, after all, the quintessential gombeen man.

  • elfinto

    I wonder will the person whose job it is to put Ulster into every sentence be kept on.

  • Stephen Copeland

    I wonder will the person whose job it is to put Ulster into every sentence be kept on.

    Or the person who is charged with making sure that every story vaguely dealing with Derry contains the word ‘Londonderry’ as often aas possible, even when it is about Derry City DC, or City of Derry Airport, or Derry City Council.

    Its a paper that sets out to annoy nationalists. It succeeds. They don’t buy it. It goes bust. Cause. Effect. So simple, so silly, so unnecessary.

    [Posted by Stephen Copeland]

  • Mick Fealty

    Bemused:

    Although this accusation of sectarianism is entirely off topic, it’s worth drawing attention to some ropey reasoning, which has sadly become too much of a commonplace from our commenters.

    First a definition:

    1. A member of a sect.
    2. One characterized by bigoted adherence to a factional viewpoint.

    In making the accusation, the burden of proof is on you, not the person or institution you target.

    In this case, let me demonstrate what I mean by ‘ropey reasoning’. You mention the “…geo-political nomenclature of one community”

    That’s an interesting metric. However, it’s the sole link to your judgement that the paper as ‘a sectarian rag’. The problem is that it is based on purely ad hominem reasoning: ie we move from A to E, with no reasoning joining B, C or D: we just ‘snap’ to the final damning statement.

    An alternative metric would be to look closely at who actually buys the Telegraph. By reputation at least, it has the most mixed audience of any of the local papers. It also sells by far the most copies of papers.

    Both of which statistics provide evidence that you have just been talking through your hat! 🙂

    Maybe now people can get back to talking about the story above.

  • urquhart

    Stephen Copeland, you said, “Its a paper that sets out to annoy nationalists. It succeeds. They don’t buy it. It goes bust. Cause. Effect. So simple, so silly, so unnecessary.”

    Isn’t the Tele the largest selling newspaper here? Is there any prospect at all of it going bust?

    So simple, so silly and so unnecessary indeed.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Urquhart,

    Re: going bust, I was merely extrapolating from Mick’s intro, where he said There has been some speculation that the owners may be getting the title ready for a sell off.

    As for its cross-community readership, I await some proof. Sales alone, whether or not it sells “by far the most copies of papers“, do not say which community buys them. Can someone provide more detailed results? Aneecdotal evidence tells me that people of the nationalist persuasion do not like the BT, and that is bad news for a paper that wants to maximise its sales.

  • Mick Fealty

    Stephen,

    Two things:

    – Going bust and being sold on are two completely different things.

    – There is no concrete stats in public domain to determin the extent to which nationalists buy it, although I know a fair few who do. But are you seriously suggesting that the leading seller in NI has the biggest problem in attracting new readers.

    As the blog piece says above all of NI’s papers saw a rise last year. DI had not completed a full year operating when the stats were published.

    As I said yetsterday, I have great sympathy for any of those losing their jobs right now , but it’s also a mere reflection of an ever more competitive market and the squeeze that the net has put on the mainstream media.

    The back end is dropping out of the print ads market in NI and everywhere, as people go online to find jobs and cheap goods.

    That’s a fixed point that O’Reilly has neither conived nor worked for.

  • willis

    I’m assuming that since the Tele is owned by Tony O’Reilly, they will go through some of the same pains as the Independent did while Andrew Marr was editor. His book “My Trade” is a great read and now available for 3 quid in good remaindered bookshops.

    I don’t think the Tele is sectarian. It has a target audience that endlessly sends in letters in favour of the 11+, a bit like the Daily Mail. It’s not a place to go to find all sides of the argument.

  • urquhart

    Stephen – selling the paper menas maximising profits, it has nothing to do with going bust.

    Mick, 28.1% of the Telegraph’s readership is RC – the second highest ‘cross community’ readership in the North. Number one spot belongs to the Mirror – 28.82% protestant readership.

    These figures come from the OFMDFM review of government ad spending:

    http://www.ofmdfmni.gov.uk/ofmdfm_ad_review.pdf

    Essential reading for those who want to speculate on the real reason for Sir AJF’s moves towards selling at the moment…

    [posted by urquhart]

  • willis

    I’m assuming that since the Tele is owned by Tony O’Reilly, they will go through some of the same pains as the Independent did while Andrew Marr was editor. His book “My Trade” is a great read and now available for 3 quid in good remaindered bookshops.

    I don’t think the Tele is sectarian. It has a target audience that endlessly sends in letters in favour of the 11+, a bit like the Daily Mail. It’s not a place to go to find all sides of the argument.

    Just so we are clear. This post came from willis

  • missfitz

    I find the telly an interesting creature. I buy it faithfully every Friday, as does almost everyone I know. I read the Jobfinder.

    Very occasionally, I will open the paper and read beyond the front pages. I rarely like what I see, but accept that it is a slant towards a target audience, as does almost every other method of communication that exists, present form included.

    The BT is the largest and most comprehensive site for jobs (and personal ads) in NI and enjoys robust sales across community divides on the basis of that.

    As to the job losses, I guess a combination of technological advances, both internally and through internet competition: rationalisation and downsizing to make it more efficient and attractive, and really another sign of the times.

  • Mick Fealty

    Willis,

    I can think of few newspapers which act as a venue for all sides of the argument. In Britain, the FT is often careless of which side of the argument it takes, but I’m sure there’s always an organising principle at stake in what it prints and doesn’t print. And in Ireland the IT does a good job of giving space to several sides on a single issues, whilst no doubt cleaving to the editor’s frame of reference.

    I’m not in business of defending the Tele, or arguing it has qualities it may not possess. But Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics, make for better reading than Lies, Damned Lies and NO Statistics.

  • urquhart

    No Statistics Mick? Have a look at my earlier post.

    Also, talk of downturns in the newspaper industry generally is fine, but is only part of the point here.

    As the report I have linked to shows, the trough that has kept the BT (and others) fat – i.e. Government ad spending, is about to become a lot less generous. Looks like Sir AJF is trying to get out while the going is still good and the pot is full.

    [Poseted by urquhart]

  • I have a further update on the BT situation from a friend (within management) who works there.

    The total number of staff (from all professions ie production staff, journalists etc…) who have applied for the voluntary severance package is 150.

    There are also very strong rumours that BT is intending to relocate to Armagh within a timespan of no later than 12 months.

    Printing would continue at Royal Avenue but all other aspects of the newspapers production would be relocated to Armagh.

    Even though sales have slightly increased, I am informed that there are severe underlying financial difficulties, public details of which will become apparent within the next few weeks.

  • Mick Fealty

    Sorry U, I was being too subtle. It was intended as back handed praise.

  • urquhart

    Jeez Mick. There’s me looking like a pig’s mickey. I’m going home.

  • heck

    while on the subject

    I was back in belfast last summer. One of the things I missed about the city was the young bucks standing in the middle of the road shouting “six telee”.

    what has happened to these guys?. They gave belfast character.

    this is really heck!!

  • Zoider drinker

    “It esclusively uses the geo-political nomenclature of one community”

    Calm down lover, that’s far too many syllables to use on a friday afternoon. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

    Anyone fancy a pint?

  • Zoiderman

    Zoiderman says:

    APologies to Belfast Gonzo if my last post (wrongly attributed to him)inferred any tendencies on his behalf which he has thus far not displayed. It all sounds a lot less strange in a Devon dialect.

  • Based on much of the tird rate drivel that passes for Editorial comment, it seems the wrong people are leaving the Telegraph!

  • tone

    I think many are only to happy to take the redundancy package . 4 weeks for every year worked.

    Are any Catholics employed in the printing department?

    It used to be a no-go area

  • wild turkey

    Belfast Gonzo2

    According to latest Equality Commission monitoring report (2005)the composition of the INM workforce is

    TOTAL 636
    P 432 (71%)
    RC 173 (29%)
    Non
    Determined 31

    The point being individuals may have religous beliefs and/or political opinions.
    Jobs don’t…
    and we are talking about the potential loss of a lot of jobs.

    ‘the tird rate drivel that passes for Editorial comment’
    David Vance.
    Do you mean third rate or turd rate drivel? Whatever, the telegraph ain’t exactly at or near the pinnacle of astute analysis or courageous investigative journalism.

    finally, not being familar with UK libel/slander laws, I defer comment on the writing of Lindy McDowell.

    posted by wild turkey (no matter what it says below)

  • Wild Turkey.

    I meant “Third Rate”, but on reflection that is too generous.

    Lindy McDowell is a bright exception in the dull mean mass of coagulated tedium served up by the BT.

  • Chris Donnelly

    “Lindy McDowell is a bright exception in the dull mean mass of coagulated tedium served up by the BT.”

    One wag quipped to me recently that Lindy was to nationalists what Brian Feeney and Jude Collins are to unionists!

    David V, it just goes to show how opinion pieces-like beauty- are in the eye of the beholder!

  • gerryandthepersuaders

    This is purely conjectural bollocks from me but most taigs i know only buy it for the job classifieds (even though we do’t work or pay rates) not the pravince-wide analysis

  • Belfast Gonzo

    For the record, that wasn’t me posting the above comments attributed to Belfast Gonzo.

    BG