JOAN McAlpine, who lost her job as editor of the Sunday Times Scotland Ecosse section in a recent retrenchment from Scotland by News International, has been reliving the pain it caused, in her weekly column in The Scotsman in which she examines the anguished choice facing senior managers in the public sector as financial cuts bite increasingly deeper.
Writing specifically at one stage on whether the state should be subsiding leisure pursuits when the country was bracing itself for deep and unprecedented cuts, McAlpine, who was a columnist and assistant editor of Sunday Times Scotland after switching from her post as deputy editor of The Herald, pointed out: “…it would (will) involve the bosses identifying priorities and choosing the unspeakable option, at least in the public sector: compulsory redundancies.”
She goes on: “There, I have dared say its name. Perhaps that’s because I have recently been through the pain of redundancy myself. It’s horrible. You know it is a financial decision involving many fellow workers and no reflection of your personal ability. Yet it is difficult not to feel anger, rejection and a sense of failure.
“That was how many people on my previous paper felt when management decided to cut the successful Scottish edition to a skeletal operation. Although we were doing well in terms of our circulation, it has felt that amputating one relatively small bit of the business was the least worst option during a recession.”
She continued: “Salami-slicing across the board had been done before…and another round would have damaged the quality of the core edition. Since most of the readers were in England, it made sense to concentrate investment there”, concluding: ”I cannot say I like it, but I understand how the decision was made.”