A few years ago, when Northcliffe first began hacking away at its editorial staff like a crazed Halloween killer, I raised the fear that previously excellent newsrooms were in danger of becoming “hamster-wheel crap factories”. That soubriquet earned me a stiff letter from the lawyers and a grudging apology in the next issue of Press Gazette.
I wonder if I’ll get one now, because the the F-word has been used again, this time by the NUJ’s Chris Morley, who says of plans to centralise subbing in the East Midlands: “The establishment of a news factory in Nottingham demonstrates a total lack of commitment to local journalism.”
A similar set-up covering what the company statement laughably describes as the “North-East” will be based in Hull.
We are also told by a Northcliffe spokesweasel that the need to remove local subbing from Derby, Leicester, Grimsby, Lincoln and Scunthorpe at the cost of around 50 sub-editing jobs ”is to meet the rapidly changing needs of the industry”.
That’s utter bollocks, of course. It’s got nothing to do with “the rapidly changing needs of the industry” and everything to do with maintaining obscene and unsustainable profits – last year, a mere £68 million.
Finally, we are assured that “Editors will be fully responsible for their titles to preserve the local identity of newspapers and websites.”
I wish them luck. They’re going to need it once local knowledge goes out of the window and stupid mistakes begin to litter their pages. Life is Local? Not any more.
PS: After a tirade of responses to this story on the Holdthefrontpage website (part-owned by Northcliffe) the link to add any more comments seems to have disappeared. Funny that.