Johnston Press: Atex change met with 'lack of understanding'

Johnston Press has issued a defence of its decision to push ahead with the introduction of the Atex content management system on newspapers in the Republic of Ireland.

The regional publishing group issued a statement this afternoon from Jean Long, divisional managing director for Ireland, in which she stated her disappointment at the decision by the National Union of Journalists to strike next week in protest at implementation of the new technology.

The statement said:

“We are extremely disappointed that the NUJ have given notice of their intention to take industrial action on Tuesday, 23 November, in four of the thirteen titles in the south of Ireland.

“The company has invested heavily in a new editorial system in order to improve the workflow and content of its publications and websites. In Northern Ireland, the journalists have embraced the new system and implementation has been successful.

“This investment, particularly at this time, is an indication of the company’s commitment to the future of its newspapers and websites. As with all industry, the introduction of new technology brings change, and regrettably change is sometimes met by a lack of understanding and resistance. The company is endeavouring to minimise the impact of the introduction of the new system through voluntary redundancy and redeployment, and by communication and consultation with the staff and their representatives.

“If our titles are to meet the challenges presented by the unprecedented downturn in the economy, they must take full advantage of new technology.

“Many of our titles are institutions in their communities and reflect the lives and issues of local people. The company is committed to this tradition and will maintain editorial standards and the quality of its publications.

“The company has strong contingency plans in place and is confident that the affected titles will continue to be published.”

Introduction of the technology on Johnston Press papers earlier this year in England led to the threat of a group-wide strike and a string of production howlers.

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