News Corp is expected to trim jobs at its London and New York newspapers in the coming weeks, company insiders say, as a steep decline in print advertising has forced sharp cost reductions on the news business.
News International, whose papers include The Times, Sunday Times and The Sun, is in the final stages of an efficiency review conducted by the Boston Consulting Group and could cut up to 50 jobs, or some 2.5 per cent of its staff, although new posts may be created.
The Wall Street Journal, which has avoided deep cuts in the newsroom – considered the lifeblood of the organisation – is expected to lose about 25 positions, or 3 per cent of editorial jobs, through attrition, voluntary redundancies and possible compulsory redundancies.
The expected reductions pale in comparison with cuts being made across the newspaper sector including Gannett, the top US newspaper publisher, which cut 4,000 jobs in 2008 alone.
They are symbolic, however, because Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has historically spared his favourite properties in spite of heavy losses at some titles. Lachlan Murdoch, his elder son, once admitted that the New York Post lost about $40m a year.
Mr Murdoch is under pressure from Wall Street to clarify News Corp’s long-term strategy. The group is seen as being saddled with troubled newspapers and local television stations.
“Our fear is that News Corp is so committed to its existing businesses that it will be willing to sustain businesses that slip into negative profitability for years,” Richard Greenfield, an analyst at Pali Research, wrote last week after downgrading News Corp’s rating from buy to sell.
When Mr Murdoch took over Dow Jones in late 2007, he pledged to invest heavily in the Wall Street Journal while others in the industry were cutting. The newsroom headcount has remained at about 760 employees.
In January, Les Hinton, Dow Jones chief executive, told staff in a memo that the group planned to freeze salaries in response to the economic downturn, in the hope that this would “mitigate future possible job cuts”.
Mr Murdoch, who has sought to bolster the paper’s political coverage, has aimed to transform the Wall Street Journal from a business paper of record to a national rival to The New York Times.
Robert Thomson, editor-in-chief of Dow Jones and managing editor of the Journal, is on a road show in London this week to discuss Dow Jones’ future.
News Corp and Dow Jones both declined to comment.
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