Archant Norfolk has announced plans to restructure its editorial department with the loss of up to 20 jobs – a figure the NUJ has described as ‘astonishing”.
A 30-day staff consultation on the proposals gets underway this week. Archant says if the plans are accepted it will see the ‘creation of a new digital department, a greater focus on weekly titles and an increase in the number of reporters operating ‘on-patch'”.
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The company also claims no reporter jobs will be lost and a number of new roles will be created.
The announcement comes two years after 24 redundancies were made at Archant Norfolk, according to the NUJ.
Father of chapel for Archant Norfolk Pete Kelley said: “If this goes ahead as planned, we’d be losing something like one-fifth of our journalists, an astonishing figure.
‘Staff had less than two hours notice of this announcement, and it has come as a complete shock, at a very tough time.
‘The NUJ will be looking in detail at what the company is planning, point by point. But, right now, our message is simple: These are award-winning, successful community newspapers.
‘They are making a profit. That, in itself, is a tremendous achievement, in the current climate.’
He added: ‘Our people have gone on producing exclusives, quality local features, well-designed supplements, great pictures and holding those in authority to account.
‘They deserve an award, not a kick in the teeth, and we think the public will agree with us about that. If this company can invest £2m in new computers, when is it going to start investing in people?”
Archant Norfolk editorial director James Forster said: ‘The publishing world in which we now operate is changing, which means that we need to create a flexible and digitally aware department, responsive to our audience. We anticipate the creation of a number of new roles within the team to help us achieve this.
‘We have striven to propose changes which allow us to invest more in our digital operation and at the same time address our costs by making efficiencies in the way we produce and process our newspapers.”
Brand editor of the Eastern Daily Press Peter Waters added: ‘It is important that we develop even further our connections with the communities that we serve and these proposals are designed to help us achieve that.”
Archant Norfolk publishes the Eastern Daily Press, Norwich Evening News, 10 weekly paid-for and free titles including the Great Yarmouth Mercury and North Norfolk News, and regional magazines including EDP Norfolk and Let’s Talk.