NUJ: 'Flawed' Newsquest subbing hubs causing 'unnecessary pressure and conflict'

Journalists at Newsquest have called for an urgent review of the system which sees many titles sub-edited remotely from a centre in Newport, Wales.

At the beginning of this month, Newsquest group production director Leighton Jones told staff in an email"it has been decided that headlines, subheads and straplines on stories will no longer be written in the copy-editing hubs". But reports since have suggested a U-turn on this plan, though the company has declined to comment.

And now, according to the NUJ, its Newsquest chapel has passed a motion saying: “This group chapel expresses deep concern at the lack of communication between regional centres and the Newport hub.

"This is an inherent flaw in the system established by Newsquest and calls on management to address this urgently to safeguard the quality of the products and the journalism produced.

"To be clear, the criticism made is of the system, not the people having to work within the system.

"Unnecessary pressure and conflict is being caused to all as a result.”

According to the union, the "worrying situation" was discussed at a weekend meeting of representatives from individual chapels around the country.

The NUJ said: "Reps felt that the company was fostering a divisive atmosphere between staff in the hub and colleagues working in the regions – something made worse by the great distances between them, the huge volume of work and inadequate resources at either end.

"This was leading to great stress as deadlines neared for stories to be subbed with little or no time available to proof pages to ensure quality. This was not helped by poor communication between the hubs and individual titles."

The group chapel also raised concerns that contact between hubs and other offices was "actively discouraged by managers". It said there are "very specific reporting lines, for instance, hub staff would have to go through newsdesks to raise a query about a story and not talk to the reporter. Often the communication was only by email."

Chris Morley, NUJ Newsquest group coordinator, said: “The creation of the hub system was done in a very heavy handed way by the company and it has done and continues to do little to help smooth the relationship between its staff.

"This has been extremely hard on all those who work incredibly hard with insufficient resources to try to make this work. Newsquest needs to adopt a more caring approach and ease the burden on those at the sharp end of a very difficult process.

"We are calling on the company to recognise the problems that have arisen from its operating model and work with staff to tackle significant problems in a wide-ranging review that will benefit staff but also aid productivity.”

Picture: Shutterstock

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