Over 30% of ET Prime team fired, week after 120 layoffs at Times Internet

This comes as part of a restructuring exercise to integrate the business portal with BCCL, sources said.

WrittenBy:Sumedha Mittal
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ET Prime has laid off a third of its employees as part of a restructuring process to integrate it with the Economic Times, two senior executives told Newslaundry.

While ET Prime is a subscriber-only business news service under Times Internet Limited, Economic Times is a business daily operated under the Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited.

Around 12 staffers of the nearly three dozen employees who work with ET Prime were fired on Thursday, nearly a week after TIL – the digital division of the Times Group – laid off around 120 staff, sources said. They have been given a three-month severance package, they said. 

This is the third round of layoffs at TIL after 100 employees lost their jobs in August. At the time, TIL had issued a statement promising it was a “one-time exercise”. 

Newslaundry had earlier reported how Times Group executives theorised that the layoffs were a result of the division of the group’s assets, with the conglomerate’s split between the Jain brothers heading towards an “integration” of products over the next “three months” to remove “internal duplication”.

The restructuring

ET Prime will continue as a product, sources said. But instead of ET Prime editor Shishir Prasad, the integrated team is expected to be led by Economic Times executive editor Sruthijith KK, two highly-placed sources within ET Prime told Newslaundry

“The layoffs are happening now because the management wants to integrate a smaller team and Sruthijith KK will not want the layoffs to happen again,” a senior executive said.

“We will continue to do paywalled long-form stories because the subscription has already been sold. It is just that now the employees will be under BCCL for payrolls. ET Prime was producing at least three long-form articles per day in comparison to one long-form article produced by other subscription-based news platforms. So, our unique offering will be unaffected.”

Cuts have happened at all levels of the team – reporters, desk, design and operations. “No one has been spared. There is an atmosphere of sadness,” said the executive.

Employees were informed of the decision only on Thursday and at least seven of them were hired post-Covid, sources said. 

A spokesperson had earlier denied the possibility of layoffs at ET Prime.

“It is because the decision who is to be laid off is being taken at the HR level…layoffs are being done discreetly. They are calling people individually and firing them,” said the senior executive.

Asked about the possible impact of the restructuring on ET Prime’s editorial independence, the executive said “we were not given a choice” and that “I hope we’ll be given a free hand under ET”. 

The ET Prime team strength is expected to be trimmed to half, and it’s not clear whether Shishir Prasad will even be part of the final team, said another senior executive.

ET Prime stood out because it proved that a subscription-based model can also work for a media conglomerate whose revenue is dependent on advertising. The coming months will unravel whether this new model to do good journalism can survive in the Times Group.”

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