Newsquest Glasgow journalists told to reapply for jobs

All but a handful of the journalists at Newsquest‘s Glasgow titles have been given redundancy notices and told to re-apply for jobs in a new merged newsroom.

The titles affected are The Herald, Evening Times and Sunday Herald. Up to 40 editorial jobs are going to be cut in the shake-up.

Only a few key senior journalists have not been given notice of redundancy.

Newsquest Glasgow managing director Tim Blott said the need for these changes was made ‘more urgent’by planned industrial action by NUJ members at the titles.

News of the merger moves comes a day after Glasgow Evening Times editor Donald Martin was promoted to editor-in-chief of all three titles.

NUJ members at the Glasgow titles had voted in favour of industrial action in protest at news last month that Newsquest was seeking new cost savings of £2m a year in Glasgow. They were due to start a policy of work to rule this week – pending the outcome of a meeting between NUJ representatives and management which was due to start at 4.30pm this afternoon.

An NUJ survey of staff at the Newsquest titles has found that they already feel current staffing levels are placing unacceptable levels of stress on journalists.

In May, Newsquest Glasgow revealed that 20 jobs would be cut in editorial due to ‘poor trading conditions’and that it intended to create ‘one of the world’s most modern multimedia news operations’and integrate the staff of the three newspapers into a 24-hour newsroom, producing print, web and mobile news.

In a statement today the company said that it plans to ‘merge certain newspaper staffs under new editor-in-chief Donald Martin to increase efficiency and make full use of state-of-the art news production technology now being rolled out”.

Blott said: “We are creating an efficient operation fit for the 21st century which will provide even more compelling and unique content for readers of all three titles and our web sites.

“We are committed to producing vibrant and relevant newspapers and web sites and see a bright future for The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times and their digital versions.

‘A strong indigenous press is vital for diversity of opinion and democracy in Scotland.

‘Regrettable industrial action this week by members of the National Union of Journalists at the titles makes the need for radical change even more urgent as we work to secure the future of the business and as many jobs as possible.”

The company said: ‘As part of the transformation of the business, journalists on all three titles are being made redundant and invited to re-apply for jobs in the new structure.

‘A new management structure will also be put in place with the Editor-in-Chief coordinating coverage across all three titles in line with modern media industry practice.”

In the regional newspaper ABC figures for the first half of 2008, the Glasgow Evening Times saw its headline circulation fall 8.4 per cent year on year to an average of 72,535 a day.

The Herald, which is audited under ABC’s monthly national newspaper report, fell 8.87 per cent year on year to an average daily circulation of 61,948 in October.

Its Sunday sister title posted a 15.61 per cent year on year decline in circulation to 43,392 in the same period.

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