FT announces buyouts in quest to be “a digital platform first, and a newspaper second”

Financial Times editor Lionel Barber wrote in an email to staff Monday that the newspaper will offer staff buyouts in an attempt to save £1.6 million as it also hires 10 new employees on the digital side. “The intention is to reduce the cost of producing the newspaper and give us the flexibility to invest more online,” he wrote in the email, posted in full at the Guardian. About 35 people would need to take the buyout, or layoffs will begin.

“Our common cause is to secure the FT’s future in an increasingly competitive market, where old titles are being routinely disrupted by new entrants such as Google (s GOOG) and LinkedIn (s LNKD) and Twitter,” Barber wrote, citing a “visit to Silicon Valley last September” as a factor in affirming his belief that the paper has to adapt. He said mobile now accounts for 25 percent of the FT’s digital traffic.

Among the changes Barber outlines for a digital-first future:

  • The newspaper should be choosier in what it selects to report, with “fewer commissioning channels. Equally, news editors must clearly identify priority stories…We must rethink how we publish our content, when and in what form, whether conventional news, blogs, video or social media.”
  • A streamlined international presence with reporters in “the right places ready to devote their talents to covering the big FT stories and not risk becoming isolated in silos or geographies.” There should also be “a more common international edition.”
  • “New products and services online in 2013, starting with our ‘Fast FT’ markets and a new Weekend FT app.”

Stateside, the New York Times (s NYT) said in December that it is seeking about 30 managers to take buyouts by January 24, with layoffs to follow if needed. Capital New York reports that only five people had done so by Monday morning; one of them, Alice DuBois, took a job at BuzzFeed.