The National Union of Journalists has unveiled a series of counter-proposals to Johnston Press‘s centralised sub-editing plans – in a bid to save subs’ jobs moving up to 70 miles from the towns they serve.
This month, Johnston Press announced plans to centralise sub-editing in its Midlands division.
It would mean sub-editing in Leamington, Banbury, Rugby and Daventry moving to Northampton; sub-editing at Lincolnshire Newspapers and Anglia Newspapers moving to Peterborough; and sub-editing at Buckingham, Aylesbury and Hemel Hempstead moving to Milton Keynes.
But the NUJ has opposed moving sub-editing from Bury St Edmunds – where Anglia Newspapers is based – to Peterborough, 71 miles away.
The union has suggested centralising subbing for the group – which includes the Suffolk Free Press, Diss Express, and Newmarket Journal – in Bury St Edmunds.
Johnston Press – which this week also announced plans to centralise subbing in Northern Ireland – is considering the proposals.
Journalists from other affected divisions, including Spalding in Lincolnshire, and Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, will submit their alternative plans shortly, the union said.
NUJ head of publishing Barry Fitzpatrick told Press Gazette: “If these papers are to survive and prosper they need to do be what they say on the packet – and that’s local.
“They all claim they’re serving the local community – they have mastheads that claim that.
“What we’re saying is if they have a future, they have to be what they say they are.”
When asked what problems centralised subbing would cause, Fitzpatrick said: “Even if there are jobs, it’s quite unlikely that someone will travel all that way – it’s not just remote, it’s inconceivable.
“Secondly, these people have the local knowledge and local interest, and pick up anything that slips through and is wrong.
“I want to be optimistic [that the NUJ’s proposals will be adopted] but I’m not naÃ¯ve. We’ve had a favourable response, and what we’ve said can’t be dismissed as unworkable.
“We’re expecting to have a mature dialogue, not be dismissed out of hand.”
When the centralising plans were announced, Johnston Press’s chief operating officer Danny Cammiade told Press Gazette: “Johnston Press is a newspaper group that bases itself on its localness.”