More Newsquest cuts: Lancashire Telegraph staff 'reeling' over axing of editors with eight decades of experience

Lancashire Telegraph staff are "reeling" after six more Newsquest redundancies, according to the National Union of Journalists.

The union said picture editor Neil Johnson and deputy editor Alan Simpson, described as a "backbone of the paper", are among those facing the axe. They have worked on the paper for 40 and 38 years respectively.

According to the union, the pair "were handed redundancy notices and told to clear their desks and not return".

In addition, a content editor position, features writer, online assitant and the editor's PA are also to go, the NUJ said.

Newsquest announced proposals to sack six other staff just over a year ago.

News of the latest cuts comes a day after it emerged that 11 redundancies have been proposed in Essex by Newsquest.

Chris Gee, father of the Blackburn NUJ chapel, said: "Staff here are reeling from yet more brutal and unjustifiable cuts.

"I've never seen the newsroom as stunned and dismayed at finding out the two most senior journalists in the newsroom were leaving just hours after finding out they were redundant.

"In the form of Neil and Alan, eight decades of editorial and managerial experience left the paper in one afternoon. They were the backbone of the paper.

"This was followed by a further round of redundancies. It reaches levels of tragi-comedy that one of the roles going is that of digital journalist."

He added: "Less than a week ago The Lancashire Telegraph was crowned best online media at the O2 North West Media Awards, beating finalists such as ITV Granada. The glossy trophy for that now stands next to the desk soon to be vacated by one of our online team when she loses her job.

"Journalists here note with incredulity that pay for Newsquest directors rose above £1m for the first time since 2001 last year. Bonus payments across Newsquest’s nine directors who served during 2014 also increased significantly by £338,000. All this after Newsquest reported on operating profit of £3.4m in its wider North West division (up from £2.6m in 2013). Reporters who routinely work up to ten hours a week unpaid overtime are now left wondering how we can produce a newspaper of any quality." 

Jane Kennedy, Northern and Midlands assistant organiser, said: “The savagery of these cuts show the utter disrespect shown by Newsquest to journalists who have given them decades of highly-dedicated and skilled service.  

"Senior executives of the company should be in no doubt of the demoralisation their actions have caused at these award-winning newsrooms and should be ashamed of how they have treated these outstanding journalists.”

Press Gazette has contacted Newsquest Lancashire's managing director Nick Fellows for comment. 

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