Regional press giant Newsquest's controversial remote subbing factories have been condemned as a failure by the NUJ after it emerged that most headlines the centres produce are re-written.
In recent years dozens of experienced sub editors have been sacked by Newsquest as it has moved production roles on its network of weekly and daily newspapers sometime hundreds of miles away to centralised operations in Newport and Weymouth.
An email from Newsquest group production director Leighton Jones, reported by Holdthefrontpage, has revealed that some subbing roles are now reverting to local offices.
He said: “In order to create a more efficient workflow and address the concerns of some of you that you change 80 per cent or more of the headlines that are supplied, it has been decided that headlines, subheads and straplines on stories will no longer be written in the copy-editing hubs."
NUJ Newsquest group coordinator Chris Morley said: “Large numbers of experienced and highly talented sub-editors who knew their towns and cities inside out were discarded by Newsquest through wasteful redundancy, many with years of loyal service, to create the two hubs.
“The NUJ warned loudly and clearly that producing local papers hundreds of miles away would hit quality. We warned that the staff, often inexperienced, being recruited to the hubs, especially at Newport, were placed in an impossible position by the company with lack of training and support and having to contend with vast numbers of titles.
“The results were all too unfortunate to behold and now it seems the shrinking band of remaining editors have at last accepted that the NUJ warnings were valid all along and lack of quality is undermining their titles with the reading public.
“It makes a mockery of course of the recent Investors in People award given at Newport. It is now really vital that this added workload which will be passing back to local centres must be recognised by Newsquest through the recruitment of additional staff to ease the burden on its over-pressed journalists around the UK.
“Great damage has been done with the faith placed in a failing hub experiment by senior managers but it is not too late for Newsquest to give its local teams the resources they need to produce quality journalism that the public will be attracted to.”