Archant Norfolk to axe jobs as departments merge

By Sarah Lagan

Archant Norfolk is planning to merge the
subbing, production and sports departments across its daily and weekly
titles, resulting in redundancies.

Last summer the Editorial
Centre consultancy conducted an editorial review and together with
Archant issued an interim statement saying the departments would be
centralised and there would be changes to the website and specialist
writing departments. The number of redundancies will be announced on 31

Archant is commissioning further research by the consultancy into “work flows and patterns” across the titles.

Norfolk managing director Barry Dennis said: “Cutting jobs will cut
costs, but that isn’t the prime reason for doing this; it’s about
looking at the way you do things for the future.

“Across the
country, newsrooms have started looking at how they operate. It’s a
cultural change; we are no longer just newspapers and we are very keen
to be part of the whole web activity. It’s about how you fit in with
that. These are exciting times, but I can understand those who are
worrying whether their jobs are safe. If I was on that side of the
fence I would feel the same, but we have to look at it from a business
point of view.”

Committee member for the recognised NUJ chapel at
Archant Norfolk, and sub-editor for the Eastern Daily Press, Peter
Kelly, said: “It stands to reason that we, as the NUJ, are opposed to
the cuts. We are trying to persuade the management to allow a union rep
to take part in the talks. At present there is no voice to represent
the workforce.”

About 197 journalists work across Archant
Norfolk, which includes daily titles the Eastern Daily Press and the
Norwich Evening News.

In June 2004 the picture desks for the
Evening News and Eastern Daily Press were merged, resulting in three
posts being made redundant. Seven people applied for voluntary
redundancy and were accepted. The company then hired four more members
of staff.

■ Newsquest would not comment this week on claims that
managing and financial directors from across the country were called
into the head office on Tuesday to discuss major cutbacks that could
affect editorial.

It is feared that overheads may have to be cut
by as much as 10 per cent due to the downturn in recruitment
advertising and online competition that is affecting all regional
newspaper groups.

MDs were, it is believed, told the cuts were
not only a response to current trading conditions, but also part of a
“major long-term structural shift” in the business.

It is thought
that some late editions could be scrapped, deadlines of early editions
brought forward, and pagination cut, as well as all discretionary

Newsquest was unavailable for comment as Press Gazette went to press.

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