Johnston Press to merge editor roles on Yorks weeklies

Johnston Press has kicked off a fresh round of cuts at its offices in South Yorkshire and Humberside

Staff were today told of plans to have one editor covering the South Yorkshire Times, the Goole Courier and the Selby Times instead of three. A reporter’s role at the Mexborough office is also under threat as as well as an editorial assistant post, as part of plans to cut 18 jobs across all departments.

Journalists working at the Doncaster centre for sister daily title the Sheffield Star title have been told they will now have to report in to the Doncaster editor-in-chief as well as Sheffield editorial management, according to the NUJ.

The NUJ said the company had blamed the cutbacks on “under performing advertising and circulation”.

Chapel members will be holding an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the developments.

NUJ Northern & Midlands Organiser Chris Morley ‘These proposals show how flimsy are Johnston Press’s claims to believe in local journalism to serve the communities where its newspapers circulate. How can a newspaper and website properly engage with the town when it has no editor?

“The ironic element here is that in this announcement, the company has chosen to attack the editorial department of one of the best performing title for circulation in its stable. The South Yorkshire Times has fought hard for its reputation as a campaigning newspaper that digs out stories people want to read but this seems to cut no ice with the corporate bean counters.

“Our members are in no mood to accept these wholesale cuts which merely undermine the jobs that remain for the future. It is a disastrous blend of hopelessness and defeatism and shows that Johnston Press has no idea or strategy to grow the business or defend its staff and customers with a positive strategy.

“We will be examining these proposals hard over the coming weeks and our members will decide on what approach they have to meet their challenge.”

A South Yorkshire Newspapers NUJ chapel official added: “We have been expecting yet more cutbacks every day but the savage nature of today’s announced cull has left us shocked and devastated.

“However this is not over. What happened to some of our members today will happen to others tomorrow and the day after that unless a line is drawn. We are confident that our members are now minded to draw it.”

NUJ general secretary-elect Michelle Stanistreet said: ‘The job cuts are disastrous for quality journalism and local democracy. The cuts in Yorkshire are not insolated incidents and expose the ruthless business models employed across our profession.’

Johnston Press managing director John Bills said: ‘These changes will mean a reduction of 18 full time equivalent roles but there are eight full time equivalent roles vacant across the three companies [Sheffield Newspapers, South Yorkshire Newspapers and Wilfred Edmunds] and employees will be encouraged to apply for these vacancies.

‘Prior to any implementation, management will consult extensively on an individual and collective basis. We anticipate that this consultation process will be complete by the 15 July 2011.”

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