Martim Avillez Figuereido, the editor-in-chief of the innovative Portuguese newspaper, i, has left the direction of the daily following a number of disagreements with the management, according to Jornal de Negócios.
The Lena Group, owner of Sojormedia Capital that operates the daily, confirmed in a press release last month, that Figuereido had been let go and that the newspaper was "looking for a new direction" to guarantee the viability of the publication.
In the press release, the group affirmed it had a "new plan of action that aims to reformulate its strategy in the sector of social communication...a second measure is to search for a new direction for the newspaper that guarantees its viability. This new path will be forced to pass by cost control and revenue increase, and the deepening of synergies with other Lena Group brands."
As part of its ongoing restructuring, the company confirmed the departure of Martin Avillez Figuereido and the appointment executive director André Macedo as the new interim editor-in-chief.
Although the company commits the management to "presenting a solution for the direction of the newspaper that will assure the quality of the project and the desired restructuring simultaneously," the circumstances that surround Figuereido's departure may reveal a different future for this unique daily.
A day after Figuereido's departure from i, Diario de Noticias reported that "differences regarding cost-cutting" measures motivated Figuereido's departure from the newspaper. DN explains Figuereido refused to accept Sojormedia Capital's cost-cutting package. The editor-in-chief sent a letter with an ultimatum for the Lena group president, but left his position at the company at the end of the day.
In the letter to Lena group President António Barroca, that DN obtained, Figuereido explained he felt "disappointed" about the cost reduction measures that had been imposed on him by the management. Figuereido felt they inevitably "disfigured" the project he had been heading since 2008.
The austerity measures imposed by Sojormedia Capital included the "reorganization of the newsroom to reduce costs by 30,000 euros per month" and cutting down 20% from news agency costs, among others.
Three days later after the company announced André Macedo's appointment as interim editor-in-chief, Macedo followed in Figuereido's footsteps and decided to leave i, as well leaving journalist Manuel Queiroz at the head of the Portuguese daily.
The crisis at i was precipitated in the last couple of weeks by a lower revenue return than stockholders expected. DN suggess that the Group's need to reach the 600 million euro mark to generate appropriate returns for stockholders led to the cost-cutting measures package and to Figuereido's departure.
Figuereido answered the call by the group to create an innovative newspaper that would do respond to all criticism raised against newspapers in 2008. The newspaper was launched by Figuereido in early may of 2009 and attracted much attention due to its rising circulation figures and original approach to making a newspaper. Its circulation was augmenting steadily last August and seemed to be doing well for a newspaper. The publication also won a design award from the Society of News Design last year.
Unfortunately, the scenario faced by i is one that many newspapers in these times of crisis are currently struggling with. Figuereido's departure, motivated by his desire to uphold the integrity and quality of his newspaper, is remarkable at a time when many companies are concerned with the bottom line. Striking a balance between pleasing management and both readers and journalists can prove to be a challenge in these trying times.