Coronavirus crisis: Jakarta Post lays off staff to avoid closure

The newspaper’s editors admit it is “a dramatic, but necessary step”. The country is in recession and the publication accumulates losses. The expenditure on salaries must go from 75 to 30% of the total. The staff will be reduced to 50-60 units. The publishing crisis in Asia.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Affected by the knock on effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the Jakarta Post has announced a layoff plan to avoid closure.

This was revealed by the newspaper management in an internal note published on 25 August. They have described it as “a dramatic, but necessary step”.

The Jakarta Post, launched in 1983, is the nation’s first and foremost English-language newspaper. It prints around 6,000 copies every day and enjoys an excellent reputation among Indonesian senior officials and foreigners living in the country.

However, the Covid-19 emergency has pushed Indonesia towards recession, and the publication is accumulating financial losses. “We sell a limited number of copies, but we have a strong impact on society, especially due to our coverage of issues related to justice and democracy. Unfortunately, we have no money left,” said Yusuf Wanandi, head of the board of directors.

To date, salaries account for 75% of the newspaper’s expenses. To reach a balanced budget by the end of the year, or at the latest by 31 December 2021, the cost of the labour force will have to fall to 30%. The cuts must be completed by 1 October, reducing the staff to 50-60.

The pandemic crisis has dealt a severe blow to publishing in Asia. The most striking case is that of the South China Morning Post, which in April cut the salaries of 27 top executives – including the managing director Tammy Tam – and forced all employees with a monthly income of more than HK $ 20,000 (€ 2,180) to take three weeks of unpaid leave by March 2021.

by Mathias Hariyadi – ASIA NEWS

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