Are 54 jobs to go in Norwich?

I’ve just been sent this sneaky ‘Five o’clock on a Friday’ announcement. I can’t check it out at the moment, but I have no reason to believe that it’s not genuine.

 

Internal Announcement

Today Archant Norfolk is announcing a proposal to make a number of changes in their editorial departments. The proposed changes are based on the need to develop and grow our content, particularly online.

The proposed changes are caused by a number of factors

The first is that Archant is making a significant investment (worth almost £2m) in a new editorial system. We have been working on this project for over a year and soon we will have the first fully integrated web and print editorial system in the UK .

The new system will enable us to radically change the way we do things, whilst at the same time making sure that we develop and strengthen our links into the communities we serve. Also it means that we will be able to develop much more editorial content onto our websites which are enjoying continual audience growth.

Some things which are done now, no longer need to be done with the new system, and more modern and efficient ways of working can be adopted. The changed workflows and the productivity benefits which follow are a part of the equation in creating changes to our editorial staffing levels.

Another aspect is that we, like other media businesses, have suffered some effects of advertisement revenue decline, with a sharp reduction in property and recruitment revenue, and we need to make sure that our cost base is viable for the environment we are now facing.

Most of you will be aware of the difficulties there are in the overall economy caused by the global downturn and other factors and unfortunately we are not immune from the effects of this. We also see no immediate prospect of this changing in the foreseeable future.

We have sought to diminish the effects of this sharp revenue decline by reducing the costs in other departments, including Marketing, Reader Travel, Newspaper sales, Advertising, Pre press, and front counters. The Editorial department is the only department which has not been the subject to any major review in the last 2 years.

At the same time, our online activities are showing significant growth and we want to be able to develop these more vigorously.

Many of you will know that our online audiences are growing steadily, and are currently showing growth of 9% on last year.

All staff who will use the new editorial system will receive extensive support training in order to help them make best use of the new software.

Recently all editorial staff were asked to complete an activity audit. What this provided was a detailed view of what work was done and how long it took to do this work.

The new system and the editorial work audit have enabled us to determine the types of activity we feel are needed to safeguard our future and to continue to serve the local area with strong print and web brands.

The new system enables us to redefine our work processes and move our editorial teams to a more modern and effective way of working. We remain vigorously determined to keep and develop the editorial integrity and quality of our brands whether the consumer accesses them via print or electronic means.

Under the new working practices we will be moving towards a single news team able to provide content for all of our print and web brands. This is widely becoming the accepted method of running a modern, multi–channel newsroom.

These changes will affect the numbers of people we will need in the future. We have also taken notice of the information from the activity sheets.

The proposal is that the company would want to reduce the number of editorial staff by 54 and we are therefore proposing to enter into collective consultations with all affected staff through elected staff representatives.

During these consultations we will look at all options regarding minimising staff reductions. We are committed to the editorial quality of our newspapers and websites.

Stephan Phillips

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