Manners resigns as northcliffe pool plan proposes 47 job cuts

By Jon Slattery

Western Daily Press editor Terry Manners resigned on the same day
Northcliffe told staff in Bristol and Plymouth that it is considering
pooling subbing, photographic, feature and sports staff across its
morning and evening titles.

A team of consultants and Northcliffe managers, who have been
reviewing the company’s editorial operation, have recommended that the
number of editorial posts in Bristol, where the Western Daily Press and
Bristol Evening Post are published, should be cut by 36.

At the Plymouth centre, which publishes the Western Morning News and Plymouth Evening Herald, the proposed job reduction is 11.

Manners
had edited the WDP since April 2001, picking up a string of editorial
awards. He joined from the Press Association, where he was associate
editor. Before PA he had worked at the Daily Express for 20 years and
was night editor of the Daily Express in London for five years and then
assistant editor, before moving to Scotland as editor-in-chief.

Northcliffe management is said to want “a common spine” in editorial at Bristol and Plymouth centres.

The
company stresses that the job figures are still only proposals to be
considered by the new editors-in-chief, Mike Norton in Bristol and Alan
Qualtrough in Plymouth. Final decisions are not expected to be made for
at least a month.

A Bristol insider told Press Gazette: “People
are very angry that a company making £100m a year is even thinking
about cutting staff, reducing standards and increasing our already
heavy workload.”

The consultants will be looking at editorial
resources across all parts of the Northcliffe Newspapers, which is
attempting to make savings of £20m a year.

They are currently
looking at Gloucestershire, where the paper produces The Citizen and
Gloucestershire Echo, and its titles in the South-East.

It is
thought that there will be less scope for job cuts outside Bristol and
Plymouth because the other centres in England and Wales only produce
one daily title, leaving less room to pool editorial jobs.

Aberdeen,
where Northcliffe publishes the morning Press and Journal and the
Aberdeen Evening Express, is seen asa different case because the P and
J, is such a strong and profitable title covering a huge area.
Significantly, no editor-in-chief has been appointed in Aberdeen.

Manners’
deputy editor, Chris Cowley, a former editor of the OxfordMail, has
also left. Manners’ departure follows the axing of Bristol Evening Post
editor Mike Lowe in June. Lowe’s replacement, Mike Norton, was made
editor-in-chief of the Bristol operation above Manners.The words of
MannersTerry Manners told Press Gazette : “It is true to say I am
fairly gutted at leaving the Western Daily – a newspaper and a staff I
adore.

“But there is a different way forward for the title under the shadow of its bigger brother the Evening Post.

“Sadly,
I feel that although some of the changes are for the good, others seem
to be based on algebra and not passion, pride or product, drive and
competitive editorial culture. Perhaps I am wrong.

“I have many
friends across the Northcliffe titles – and indeed the Northcliffe
board – and I know I will keep them. They understand the kind of
journalist I am. I wish the new editor-in-chief in Bristol a lot of
luck and a fair wind.

“The Western Daily is a fragile little
lady, but she is a fighter who responds well to lots of TLC. I know
that she will weather the storm and with her great crew, be the best
frigate in the fleet.”

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