Journalists at Newsquest‘s north and east London centres are to be hit by six redundancies and the eradication of all subeditors’ jobs in favour of multi-skilled, cross-platform journalists.
Staff across at least seven titles were told that sub-editors would be replaced by multimedia journalists, responsible for writing news and features; subbing and designing pages; shooting video; taking pictures; working the new content management system; blogging and writing news stories online; processing pictures for print and for the web and looking after trainees.
- March 16, 2018
- March 14, 2018
- February 27, 2018
The papers affected are the Epping Forest Guardian, the Waltham Forest Guardian, Wanstead and Woodford Guardian, the Enfield Independent and the Borehamwood Times as well as the free Bishop Stortford Citizen and Waltham Forest Independent titles.
The 31-point job description for a new senior multimedia journalist to replace the chief sub-editor role, seen by Press Gazette, was described by one source close to the paper as ‘ridiculous”.
The source said that in addition, the new senior journalists would be responsible for teaching reporters how to sub-edit. ‘Instead of being specialists in one area they are now have to specialise in every area of the newsroom,’said the source.
In an announcement to staff last week, Newsquest Hertfordshire & Buckinghamshire managing director Vic Catanach and Newsquest North & East London managing director Andy Thomas wrote: ‘You will all be aware through recent media coverage of the challenges facing businesses in many sectors of the economy both in the UK and abroadâ€¦
‘In light of these difficult circumstances the company has undertaken a full review of its activities and proposes a programme of restructuring that will realign staffing levels to the changed trading conditions while at the time taking advantage of technology to introduce workflows that will more readily meet the needs of the business.”
Staff are concerned about the level of workload that could arise with one member of staff describing the new plans as ‘horrendous”.
No reporters are to be made redundant but the roles of news editor, chief sub and all sub editors are to be scrapped.
NUJ assistant organiser Don Mackglew led a packed meeting of union members last Thursday, where industrial action was discussed.
He said today: ‘This is a savage cut to the already overworked, stressed and underpaid journalists that work for these titles. Only recently the father of the chapel raised concerns with the MD about journalists’ workloads.
‘It is clear that they are not interested in their employees’ wellbeing, but only interested in saving money and closing local offices. The new proposals will certainly increase the workload for the remainder of staff and affect the quality of journalism across all the titles.’
Newsquest East London managing editor Dan Mason was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
The job description for Newsquest London’s new senior multimedia journalist position includes the following points:
- Editorial duties…including writing, uploaiding, editiing, subbing, photography and video.
- Maintaining a presence in local communities while meeting changing content and production demands.
- Contribute fully to productitivity of editorial team, regularly contributing ideas and subjects for multimedia content including news, features, photographs, picture galleries, videos, blogs and campaigns.
- To act as mentor to trainee journalists and perform duties of other editorial managers on a temporary basis.
- To demonstrate knowledge of the area, local issues and key influencers.
- To engage with an expanding network of contacts.
- To actively encourage community generated content in print and online, including blogs, commmeents, videos and photographs.
- To attend a variety of events, including evening and weekend events where appropriate.
- To ensure that all relevant benchmark and productivity targets are met consistently.
- To respond quickly, with multimedia options considered, to breaking news stories in or out of office hours, either personally or by alerting the relevant manager.
- To consistently demonstrate advanced subbing, design and production-related skills.
- The job description adds: “This job description summarises the main aspects of the job, but does not cover all the duties that the jobholder may be required to perform…It is not intended to restrict the scope of the job, but clearly to define its starting point.”