The Times and the Sunday Times are set to merge their online teams, in a move that is being seen as a precursor to a wider, more comprehensive union of the two editorial operations.
As Roy Greenslade at the Guardian notes, the original decision to keep them separate (made at the behest of Sunday Times editor John Witherow, who wanted to keep his distance from the daily title) was strange; the announcement thus signals that, in Greenslade’s words, ‘good sense appears to have prevailed’.
Whilst such a move appears to make sound financial sense – both papers currently make a loss, and consolidating their respective online editorial teams is clearly a step in the right direction – such a change seems to challenge the undertaking given by Rupert Murdoch on his purchase of both titles in 1981 that he would maintain the distinct identity of each newspaper. Indeed, a source within Wapping, quoted by the Telegraph, stated that ‘it is total insanity to sacrifice the successful Sunday operation on the alter of the daily’.
Approximately 10 staff have been made redundant as part of the reorganisation, and have been asked to re-apply for new roles as part of a ‘digital development and strategy’ unit, which would function across both titles.