The editor-in-chief of Independent News and Media in Northern Ireland has claimed that the number of reporters employed in the regional press has remained largely unchanged over the past decade.
Edmund Curran, the former editor of the Belfast Telegraph, believes that sub-editors and design staff have instead borne the brunt of the cuts.
The former president of the Society of editors agreed that staff budgets had had seen a ‘substantial” reduction but ‘not, crucially, in the context of writing journalists”.
This was part of a trend for production and subbing to be outsourced or centralised in regional hubs, he said.
He told a joint Parliamentary committee investigating the future of investigative journalism: ‘The newspapers tend to say, with our editorial budget, we want to use that money for staff who are actually writing in the paper, who are investigating in the paper, reporting in the paper – rather than, to put it blunt, pushing pens around and drawing pages… that’s where the casualties have been – in the layout and design and presentation of the papers.”
Geraldine Allinson, the president the Newspaper Society, said the UK newspaper industry employs around 30,000 people in total and that 10,000 of those are journalists, arguing that in percentage terms ‘the number of journalists is bigger than it used to be”.
Curran, an NCTJ board member, also told the committee that the economic pressures on the newspaper industry had actually resulted in an ‘enhanced’level of investigative journalism and that newspapers were now far more comprehensive than they were when he began his career, as regional editors had to work far harder to attract the attention of readers.