Journalists slam Lancs morning switch

NUJ members in Bolton have hit out at Newsquest’s plans to turn the Bolton Evening News and Lancashire Evening Telegraph into morning titles to try to increase their circulation.

The Bolton Evening News’s sales are down 7 per cent year on year, but some of the paper’s journalists believe moving to a morning title will not help bring in extra readers.

News NUJ father of chapel David Thomson said: “Most don’t believe this move is going to pay dividends in terms of increased sales. They think if you want to halt decline you need to invest in the paper itself, increase pagination rather than making sure it’s on sale first in the morning. There’s not much optimism for this plan.”

Staff are to be given new shift patterns, which will include late shifts, after a 30-day consultation period, and the chapels are negotiating pay with management. Staff on the Bolton paper have been given a preliminary draft of the new hours that includes a 2.30- 11.30pm shift.

The Bolton chapel is seeking £20 dinner allowance for those working until 9pm, and £25 for those working until 11pm. In previous negotiations in York, Newsquest refused a similar deal.

In a memo, Evening News editor Steve Hughes said: “It is our intention to produce as much of the paper as possible during the day, but clearly there will be a need for a change in shift patterns and restructure of the editorial operation.”

Both papers will be printed overnight to reach the newsstands by 6.30am from 26 June.

Newsquest recently closed three of the Evening Telegraph’s offices in Accrington, Burnley and Darwen and cut editions on the York Evening Press from four to two. The Bradford Telegraph & Argus and the Oxford Mail were also cut to one edition.

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