German tabloid newspaper Bild plans to cut hundreds of jobs as it scales back its regional operations this year — and ramps up its use of artificial intelligence in preparation for a digital-only future.
Axel Springer, which publishes Germany’s biggest-selling daily newspaper, told employees in an email Tuesday that the newspaper would cut six of its 18 regional editions, and close two-thirds of its regional offices. The company plans to produce Bild’s regional newspapers, and manage its regional reporters, from Berlin in the future, it said.
The roles of editors, photo editors, proofreaders and other employees involved in print production will “no longer exist as they do today,” the publisher said in its memo, a copy of which was shared with CNN.
According to German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine, about 200 jobs will be cut. Axel Springer would not confirm the exact number of layoffs to CNN, but it said the figure would be in the “low three-digit[s].” Bild currently employs about 1,000 people.
The announcement comes three months after Mathias Döpfner, Axel Springer’s chief executive, warned employees that “significant” job cuts were on the way as part of the company’s push to become a purely digital publisher, with AI playing an important role.
A spokesperson for Bild told CNN the job losses associated with the newspaper’s restructuring had “nothing to do with the use of AI,” and that the technology would be used to support journalists in their work.
“The use of AI creates more time and space for journalistic creativity for editors and reporters. Wherever AI supports, a journalist always has to check and double-check the result,” the spokesperson added.
But in its memo to staff, Axel Springer said that it was “starting a clear AI offensive because we also need that for our move to digital-only,” and that “the majority” of jobs involved in the production of the print editions were vulnerable.
“Unfortunately, we also have to part with colleagues who have tasks that are replaced by AI and/or processes in the digital world, or who are unable to find a place for themselves in this new set-up with their current capabilities,” Axel Springer said.
“AI will soon be able to completely take over the layout of the printed newspaper,” the company added.