News staff of The Baltic Times quits, but weekly to continue

The entire editorial staff of The Baltic Times, a weekly English-language newspaper published in Rīga, has resigned this week, according to an e-mail circulated to various government and civic leaders in Latvia and abroad.

The e-mail claims staff members have not been paid their salaries for up to four months and “repeated attempts to receive any information on a future payment plan has been repeatedly refused by management.”

However, the newspaper’s managing director said the publication will continue.

“We had a disagreement with Rīga staff journalists,” Sergey Alekseyev told Latvians Online in an e-mail. “As you can assume from the e-mail you received the aim is to (break) The Baltic Times’ reputation. The current issue of The Baltic Times was available for readers this Thursday as usual and will be available in future.”

The e-mail from the editorial staff was dated July 24 and was sent from an account listed for staff member Kate McIntosh, but the message was signed by the paper’s “news team.”

“As the sole English-language publication, The Baltic Times has prided itself on retaining editorial integrity and independence,” according to the e-mail. “However, in recent months staff have come under increased pressure to write favourable articles for advertising incentives.

“While we appreciate that these are hard times economically for business and companies, we felt that it was no longer possible to continue to produce a professional product under such circumstances.”

The e-mail continues that most of the former editorial staff members plan to stay in the Baltics and pursue independent media projects.

The Baltic Times is distributed throughout Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and subscribers are found throughout Europe and beyond in the Baltic diaspora, among business people and government officials. The newspaper has a circulation of 12,000, according to Alekseyev. The paper claims about 150,000 readers between its print and online versions, according to its Web site.

The weekly was created in 1996 with the merger of two other English-language newspapers, The Baltic Independent and The Baltic Observer.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

2 thoughts on “News staff of The Baltic Times quits, but weekly to continue

  1. I am totally behind the decision the journalists took how could they have continued to work under such circumstances. No pay for 4 months is a situation completely unacceptable and to have been under pressure just to write articles for commercial purposes is incredible. A newspaper is dependant on its quality of penmanship it needs to attract its readers firstly and then to sell advertising space not the other way round. Lets support these journalists who believe in their work and their newspaper.

  2. As a freelancer who worked for TBT I was overjoyed to read this (after the fact) and applaud the journalists. TBT has been know for this kind of behavior for years. The word “disagreement” is code for “They wanted to get paid and we didn’t want to part with the money.” I would love to see TBT in responsible hands—it has great potential but…

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