Just over two weeks after rumors first surfaced that The Daily, News Corporation’s iPad-exclusive daily newspaper was potentially facing the possibility of cutbacks or outright cancellation as the result of the planned restructuring of its parent company, it’s emerged that the downsizing of the publication has started far earlier than expected, with almost a third of the paper’s staff being laid off this afternoon.
According to reports, around 50 of the paper’s 170-strong staff have been released today, with the majority of layoffs coming from the paper’s less popular Sports and Opinions sections (Sources say that the paper will continue to offer sports coverage, syndicated from sibling company Fox Sports, with op-eds continuing to appear on an irregular basis “folded-in” to other, more popular, sections). The cutbacks also impact The Daily on a technical level; the Wall Street Journal is reporting that as a result of the layoffs, the newspaper will “also stop producing both horizontal and vertical views for mobile devices,” although it’s not clear what, exactly, that means; will the paper no longer dynamically follow the orientation of the iPad, or will the orientation shift just more straightforward and keep formatting from the portrait version no matter what?
In a memo to staff about the layoffs, The Daily‘s editor Jesse Angelo wrote, “The Daily was born of change. A changing technological landscape – the beginning of the tablet and smartphone revolution – made us want to rethink how we create media. And we believe that a healthy product and a healthy organization is one that continues to change. These are important changes that will allow The Daily to be more nimble editorially and to focus on the elements that our readers have told us through their consumption that they like and want.”
“Unfortunately,” he continued, “these changes have forced us to make difficult decisions and to say goodbye to some colleagues who have worked hard to make The Daily successful. These moves were driven by the needs of the business. The Daily is the first of its kind, and it remains the best of its class.”
One of the WSJ’s sources within News Corp. said that today’s layoffs weren’t seen as the beginning of the end within the organization, saying that “[this isn’t] about shutting [the publication] down, [but more that] there is a general tightening of the belt in preparation for being a different company.” That’s something echoed by the official News Corp. statement on the layoffs, which stated that the company “remains committed to the Daily, and the publication will continue to be an important part of our leading portfolio of publishing brands going forward.” Instead, the layoffs were portrayed as something that “will enable the business to operate more efficiently and with even greater focus on the types of content that consumers have gravitated towards since its launch,” according to a company spokesman.
The Guardian’s report of the layoffs mentions that security staff was brought in to escort laid off staff from the premises this afternoon.