The editor of a weekly newspaper threatened with redundancies has printed a front-page story on the proposed job cuts.
In a story headlined ‘Strike looms over Times jobs cuts”, editor Jim Oldfield told readers about owner Johnston Press‘s plans to axe half the editorial staff at its Mexborough office – including Oldfield himself.
A reporter and editorial assistant could also lose their jobs as part of plans to cut 18 advertising and editorial jobs across Johnston’s offices in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire, and to have one covering the South Yorkshire Times, the Goole Courier and the Selby Times instead of three.
On Monday NUJ members voted unanimously to ballot for industrial action over the plans.
In yesterday’s newspaper Oldfield wrote: ‘If ratified, the Times will once more be edited by staff of the Doncaster Free Press, when its circulation fell from some 6,500 to 4,000.
‘Since 2009 it has been from Mexborough – during which time circulation losses were stemmed to make the title South Yorkshire’s best-performing paid-for newspaper last year with an average loss of 3.3 per cent.”
“This is real journalism in action,’Oldfield added in a statement yesterday.
‘The Times is currently fighting a brave and protracted battle to keep its core towns from decimation during this recession, I make no apology for acquainting our readers with the changes being proposed for their champion title.
“I am pleased that the company appear to have had an adult reaction to the story.”
Johnston Press said the plans would allow the South Yorkshire Times and its sister titles to ‘meet the challenges faced by newspaper’s in today’s tough economic marketplace”.
It also said that while 18 jobs could go there are currently eight vacancies across the business and that it will ‘encourage deployment into other roles wherever appropriate”.
NUJ northern and Midlands regional organiser Chris Morley praised Oldfield for refusing to ‘self-censor’the newspaper.
‘So often news about local job cuts and industrial action are given prominence in local and regional newspapers – except when those newspapers are the subject for these,’he said.
‘It is time editors stopped self-censoring their newspapers for fear of displeasing the corporate owners who are robbing them of the editorial resources to produce their own newspaper and website.
‘I congratulate the editor of the South Yorkshire Times for being prepared to carry out his duty to the community his newspaper serves. It is important readers know the facts about the cuts and that Johnston Press hear from the staff and communities affected by the their cuts.”