Updated: Papers Struggle To Downsize As FT, Indy Prep For Strike Vote

Update: We learned later that, of the 20 FT editorial posts facing redundancy, now only two are compulsory. Looks like the strike threat might be working…

imageOriginal: No-one said it would be easy; but some newspapers’ latest efforts at reforming for the multiplatform age are not coming without pain. Journalists at both The Financial Times (via Guardian.co.uk) and The Independent (via NUJ) have voted to ballot on industrial action.

The titles want to cut 80 and 90 jobs respectively, integrating editorial across daily, weekend and online editions – but the NUJ is complaining the number of compulsory redundancies is too high. Secretary general Jeremy Dear: “Independent journalists feel there is no plan or vision about how to take the papers and websites forward with a much smaller staff.”

The union is on a crusade against the “cutbacks crisis” that has claimed hundreds of UK editorial jobs in the last few months, fighting newspaper redundancies on several national and regional fronts. But publishers themselves are facing a crunch time – falling recession-time ad spend has finally brought home the reality, to many titles, that money can be saved and efficiencies created by eliminating per-outlet production in favour of tri-media editing. Or, as Roy Greenslade puts it (via PG): “There’s no reason why we need that large group of sub-editors.”

The NUJ calls newspaper proprietors’ efforts “short-term measures” designed to “keep up unrealistic levels of profit” and excessive executive bonuses. Truth is, newspapers are taking a pounding in the ad downturn, are losing money hand over fist, have to live within their means and can use the opportunity to finally bring their print and online teams closer together.

As Independent MD Simon Kelner said on announcing his cuts in November: “If we are to safeguard the future of the papers, there is no other way to do it. You just can