Express journalists: 'Desmond not responsible publisher'

  • Express journalists say Desmond no longer a ‘responsible publisher”
  • Murdoch price war and poor performance of Health Lottery blamed for latest editorial cutbacks
  • Call to end four-year pay freeze.

Journalists at Express Newspapers have passed a motion denying that Richard Desmond is a ‘responsible publisher’in the wake of proposals for a new wave of deep cutbacks.

Staff have been told that plans for a new wave of editorial cutbacks have been prompted by the disappointing performance of Desmond’s Health Lottery, which launched last September, and the impact of the ‘Murdoch empire’s price war’– with the Sun on Sunday going on sale at 50p last month.

According to the NUJ some £5m of cuts are proposed with 70 editorial jobs under threat.

In 2008 Express Newspapers cut around 80 staff and casual journalists with a similar number going in 2009. Sub-editors and production journalists were then amongst the hardest hit.

The latest round of cost-cutting could see as many as 100 staff leave the business.

Press Gazette understands that at least 27 editorial staff are expected to be cut from the London newsroom of the Express titles. New moves are planned for seven-day working across the Express and Star titles.

One source told Press Gazette ‘There are a lot of very worried and upset people basically saying that Desmond is running up the white flag at the first sign of trouble.”

Around 200 journalists attended a joint meeting of the Express Newspapers NUJ chapel and passed the following motion.

‘This chapel rejects management’s proposals for job losses and seven day operations in certain sections across the Express and Star titles.

“Richard Desmond presented himself to a Commons Select Committee as a responsible publisher but we deny that he can be any such thing when he is prepared to run four profitable national newspapers down to a point where they will no longer present value for the reader.

“We do not believe that Express Newspapers should be affected by the allegedly disappointing performance of the Health Lottery, one of the reasons given verbally to NUJ representatives for the cuts.

“We are also ashamed to see management seemingly running up the white flag and capitulating to the Murdoch empire’s price war; another reason given for the proposed redundancies.

“We demand that Mr Desmond not only lays out a plan for the future of the titles but that he ends the four-year pay freeze and grants his employees a long-overdue rise.”

Chapel representatives are understood to be having a crunch meeting with Northern and Shell editorial director Paul Ashford today.

The NUJ has called on Desmond to think again about his bid make £5 million savings and cut 70 editorial posts at his four newspapers.

According to the NUJ the proposed cuts are as follows:

  • City: To cease publication of all weekly City pages while retaining the Wednesday and Sunday finance sections.
  • Sport: Combining the sports desks for both daily titles at the London office.
  • Property: Combining the Sunday and daily titles.
  • Motoring: Combining across all titles.
  • Travel: A combined travel desk across all titles sharing free copy with all sub-editing to cease in London and be undertaken at another office in the company.
  • Staff: Under the proposals, London is in line to lose 27 staff positions and the equivalent of 18 long-term casual positions; Glasgow will lose 12 staff and six casuals; and Broughton will lose two staff and 10 casuals.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said: ‘We are not surprised by Richard Desmond’s greedy cuts for profit strategy. Desmond does not care for media jobs or quality journalism. Our industry needs investment and growth – not media barons like Richard Desmond who use the media to fill their own pockets and take away people’s livelihoods.’

  • To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7936 6433 or email

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