Anthony plans shake-up for GWR newsrooms

The first stage in a planned overhaul of GWR’s regional news operation is expected to be completed early this month.

News editors will report back to bosses with ideas for improving the news service and for tackling the problem of high staff turnover in 30 local newsrooms owned by the GWR Group.

The group’s programme director,  Dirk Anthony, said he had started the shake-up by asking news editors to come up with ideas for delivering "a better product".

Insiders told Press Gazette that a major overhaul in GWR newsrooms was under discussion up to 18 months ago.

High turnover in the newsrooms of GWR, which owns Classic FM and Mercury, as well as local stations such as Plymouth Sound, Chiltern FM, and Trent FM, was one of the key issues that needed to be tackled, Anthony told Press Gazette.

Journalists who are understood to be paid as little as £10,000 in junior roles are leaving GWR at a rate of one third annually.

"We have got to have a better quality radio news service and a better working environment for our journalists," said Anthony.

"The UK news industry soaks up journalists, so we have to find a way where our staff sense there is a career path in our organisation that they would like to follow."

Anthony said that the ideas of news editors would be looked at but the overhaul would not take place until the summer at the earliest.

Changes in pay structure were being looked at, said Anthony, who confirmed that GWR was also considering establishing a central news hub where journalists would rewrite IRN copy for use in all its stations.

The planned shake-up has sparked fears that journalists’ jobs will be axed and the quality of local journalism could suffer as a result.

Industry insiders have expressed concern that editors were being asked to draw up proposals "that would ultimately put them out of their jobs".

Anthony refused to comment on whether job losses were in the pipeline, claiming that it was "too early" in the process.

By Julie Tomlin

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