Offices shut and editions merged at Express & Star

Two district offices have been shut down and four editions merged into two in the latest cost-saving measure at Wolverhampton’s Express and Star.

In recent weeks the paper has merged its Cannock and Rugeley edition and Lichfield and Burntwood edition to create a Cannock and Lichfield edition covering both areas.

The Lichfield office will now be sold and reporters will work from the Cannock office.

Also, the paper has merged its Dudley and Stourbridge editions to create one Late Final edition encompassing both patches.

Both the Dudley and Lichfield offices will be sold, though the paper does have reporters in another Dudley office. The papers total number of regional editions has gone from 11 to nine.

A senior source at the paper, who asked not to be named, said it was “unfortunate and a shame” that the editions were being merged and that “the company has changed quite a bit in the last few years”.

John Corser, Express and Star NUJ father of chapel, said it was another “cost-saving measure” introduced by owners Midlands News Media after announcing a voluntary redundancy scheme earlier this year.

In February 60 staff across the newspaper took up the scheme, while 69 jobs were axed last summer.

Corser said: “The union would rather see the company expanding than contracting, but we are fully aware of the economic situation here and at other regional newspapers.

“Our members are as supportive as all the other members of staff to try to achieve success for the Express and Star.

We don’t want to see the paper contract, we want to see it increasing circulation and introducing new editions.

“It’s sad that after many years of growth the newspaper industry seems to be in a state of entrenchment.”

Express and Star staff will learn today (Friday) how many more people will take up the voluntary redundancy scheme at a lunchtime NUJ chapel meeting with managers.

Alan Harris, managing director of Midland News Media, owned by the Graham family, has not ruled out imposing compulsory redundancies if the company’s quota of 40 is not filled.

He told Press Gazette that the number of jobs to go under the voluntary scheme was currently in the “mid 30s”, including “four or five from editorial”.

Regarding the office closures, Harris said: “We have had a review of our editionalised structure and have taken the view that Lichfield, which sells less than 3,000 copies a day, can be equally well served from our office in Cannock, a few miles down the road.

“Also we are bringing our Stourbridge edition closer to Dudley.

We believe our remaining nine editions will continue to give the same editorial and news service that we have given before.”

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