Northcliffe editors among 24 proposed cuts in Tamworth

Central Independent Newspapers, the Northcliffe-owned publisher of the Stoke Sentinel and Tamworth Herald, has announced plans to cut 24 jobs and centralise subbing.

But editor-in-chief, Mike Sassi, has told Press Gazette that the group would remain “the premier provider of local news”, despite the cutbacks.

Of 42 jobs in Tamworth, 24 are at risk – including the three editors of weeklies the Lichfield Mercury, Sutton Coldfield Observer and Walsall Advertiser and Great Barr Observer.

All four titles would be edited by Gary Phelps, Tamworth Herald editor.

Subbing of those titles, and the Tamworth Herald, would move 45 miles to Stoke, where CIN’s other weeklies – including the Leek Post & Times, and Cheadle Post & Times – are already subbed.

In total, there would be 29 sub-editors based in Stoke. As well as editors and sub-editors, features staff in Tamworth are also at risk.

If proposals go through, the office would be left with 18 staff: an editor and deputy, two news editors, 10 reporters, two photographers and two sports writers.

There is also a smaller number of redundancies proposed at Stoke, including some photographers, but the total depends on how many staff move from Tamworth.

The National Union of Journalists is not recognised at Tamworth or Stoke, following a staff vote in 2007, so three staff representatives have been elected in Tamworth.

By law, when 20 or more redundancies are proposed, negotiations must be collective, not individual.

In Stoke, where fewer than 20 redundancies are proposed, staff have been told individually whether or not they are affected.

Editor-in-chief Mike Sassi told Press Gazette he had had ’60 or more’one-on-one meetings.

He said: ‘These are challenging economic times. So, like every other newspaper publisher in the country, we are examining all of our production processes.

‘At some point in the future, more of our weekly papers may well be subbed at The Sentinel. But no firm decisions have yet been made.

‘And whatever happens, Central Independent Newspapers and The Sentinel will remain the premier provider of local news and information in Staffordshire and south Cheshire.”

In the first half of 2008, The Sentinel’s circulation was 60,776, and the Tamworth Herald’s was 25,229, according to ABC.

CIN is not the first newspaper group to propose centralising sub-editing.

Johnston Press has recently announced plans to centralise subbing in the North West, Midlands, and Northern Ireland.

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