Print edition of Ariel to close

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The Ariel newspaper is to close, 75 years after its first edition, in a DQF restructuring that will see the Communications division shed 30 posts.

Ariel Online, which was revamped in February and now uses the BBC News content management system, will continue to carry BBC staff news and views.

Four posts will be lost from the existing bi-media Ariel team along with comms jobs across the division, as it seeks to make 25% savings.

Communications colleagues in the nations are not affected by the news announced to staff today.

Mark Thompson acknowledged Ariel's contribution: 'Ariel newspaper has been an important part of the BBC's history for 75 years and like many of you I will be sad the paper version has to close as part of DQF savings.

'However I am pleased that it will live on online, reflecting the lives, issues and challenges that we face every day.'

Candida Watson, Ariel editor for the last two years, admitted that compared with the pan-BBC savings through DQF, the end of the newspaper 'pales into insignificance'.

'That doesn't make it any less of a shock to the long-serving staff who produce Ariel, to our regular correspondents who make the letters page a thing of occasional joy and frequent conversation, or to those of you who like to pick up the paper and read it quietly in a break, or take it to read on the journey home,' she said.

'And how will certain tabloids fill their diary columns now?

As Editor of Ariel for just over two years I am sad to be presiding over the end of the most recognised form of a BBC institution, and sad that the post I hold is also closing.

'But as the BBC prunes back frontline staff and output it is hard to argue that it should devote licence fee income to publishing an internal newspaper, particularly when it has an intranet on which Ariel has an established presence, and when the news in the newspaper has already been reported on that site.'

She adds: 'I know staff will be sad to see it go, and that the online version is different to the print issue; I know some people will see it as a none-too-subtle way of diminishing internal criticism of BBC management.

'It is true that the current Ariel online site has no comment facility on stories, but that is something we are working to address. We still have a letters 'page' and readers can still comment on any issue that they want to raise, and in the online only Ariel you won't have to wait a week to see your letter printed.'

The Ariel website would contain more audio and video in the future and would welcome readers' suggestions on content, Watson said, promising: 'Ariel will still bring you news about the BBC, interesting features and opinion, and will still endeavour to be the BBC's concerned and impartial friend.'

The final printed Ariel will hit the presses at the end of December.

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