Johnston Press set to cut eight journalists on North West titles - but NUJ says staffing already critically low

Proposed cuts by Johnston Press across six of its weekly titles in the North West that are said to be performing “poorly” commercially have put eight full-time equivalent editorial roles at risk.

The National Union of Journalists’ Johnston Press chapels in Preston and Blackpool said in a joint statement that for commercial reasons the publisher did not reveal which titles were affected by the cuts, “initially leaving many workers in the dark”.

Johnston Press has 25 titles in the North West of England, including dailies the Blackpool Gazette and Wigan Evening Post, and two magazines: the monthly Dirt Bike Rider and the weekly TMX News (Trials and Motocross News). The remainder are weekly newspapers.

Johnston Press has yet to respond to Press Gazette’s request for a comment or to confirm which titles are affected.

The NUJ chapels said: “Management believes new 40-page templates proposed for the poorly performing weekly titles will free up time for remaining staff to carry out more digital work.

“Talks are due to be take place between North West NUJ chapels and management over the proposed cuts, the consultation deadline and the terms of voluntary redundancy.

Chapel members said staffing levels are already at “critically low levels”.

They added: “Hopes remain that the impact of the proposed cuts can be mitigated by constructive talks between the NUJ chapels and management.”

A health and safety stress survey of employees is being carried out by the union.

This latest announcement follows extensive restructuring by Johnston Press across its weekly news operations in Northern Ireland, with eight roles cut, and Scotland, where 25 roles were cut.

The regional publisher has previously laid blame for cuts at the door of audience migration to digital and lower online advertising revenues “compounded by the likes of Google and Facebook”.

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