York journalists want Newsquest to sell The Press

Journalists at The Press in York are exploring ways of ending Newsquest‘s ownership of the title with a local buyout, Press Gazette can reveal.

The National Union of Journalists chapel at the daily title has unanimously agreed a motion asking the union to examine how, and if, a buyout could work.

It wants the NUJ’s national executive committee to obtain a market valuation of Newsquest York Limited, and gauge the level of interest from the local business community.

The motion, seen by Press Gazette, said: “This chapel believes in the importance of local journalism and believes that Newsquest’s continued ownership of The Press and Gazette and Herald is detrimental to the newspaper, to the quality of journalism in York and North Yorkshire, and therefore to the local community.

“This chapel laments and opposes the repeated cutbacks made by Newsquest, and believes its profit targets to be excessive and damaging to quality and reputation of the papers.

“This chapel formally requests that executive officials of the National Union of Journalists obtain a market valuation of Newsquest (York) Ltd and a market valuation of Newsquest North East; explore ways of ending Newsquest’s ownership of The Press and the Gazette and Herald; report back to the chapel accordingly, with recommendations; and contact figures in the local business and economic community, to ascertain interest in a buy-out.”

The committee this afternoon agreed to take up the chapel’s recommendations – except the part calling for it to make contact with local figures, which it felt was not appropriate for the union to do at a national level. The NEC will now seek a valuation of the papers.

Earlier this month, the York chapel voted for strike action after management refused to rule out compulsory redundancies. The Press and Gazette and Herald, like other Newsquest titles, also suffered a pay freeze.

In November, it was announced Kevin Booth, editor of The Press; Chris Buxton, editor of the Gazette and Herald; and managing director Steve Hughes were made redundant, and invited to apply for one “managing editor” job.

Press Gazette understands that Hughes has since been appointed “acting” managing editor. Booth and Buxton have left, although legally have until 31 January to appeal.

Newsquest York management had not responded to a request for comment by the time of publication.

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