Newsquest has asked readers of its south London titles to write the news themselves and publish it online as part of a “simplified process” for sharing their stories.
A column from editor Andy Parkes appears in the latest editions of its 11 south London titles and comes after publisher Newsquest has been hit by widespread editorial cuts, redundancies and industrial action.
Among the titles it appears in is the Croydon Guardian, which has been left without a dedicated reporter following cuts to editorial staff.
The National Union of Journalists has labelled the call for contributions an “insult” to readers.
Scroll down for the full column
In his piece, titled “simplified process to ensure your great news published”, Parkes said: “In an effort to get even more of your news stories onto our websites we would like to invite you to publish your own stories on our website.
“…write your article as close to the style of a news story as you can, making sure you include detail of the what, who, where and when. Attach any photos you’ve got to go with it and then click send.”
Parkes also addressed recent strike action, which he claimed had been “concluded”.
Journalists at the publisher’s Sutton office, which produces all 11 south London and Surrey titles, carried out a 10-day strike last month and are still undertaking “work to rule” action.
The dispute followed Newsquest’s decision to put 27 out of 29 staff at risk of redundancy in September as part of a restructure that would see 11 positions made redundant.
So far there have been 14 departures, including eight redundancies and six resignations, according to the National Union of Journalists.
Andy Smith, NUJ executive member, said: “Members of the NUJ are still taking industrial action in the form of a work to rule because they care about the quality of their newspapers and believe Newsquest’s latest cuts and its restructure will not work.
“If Newsquest believes it can substitute experienced journalists, who understand media law and know how to put together a news story, with contributions from readers and produce a quality product, it must be very foolish and desperate.
“The Newsquest plan has resulted in the Croydon Guardian having no dedicated reporter for the area with a population of 380,000 and no sports reporters.
“It also the case that Newsquest has asked readers at all its south London titles to contribute news stories.
“This is an insult to the readers and will do nothing to boost circulation. “
ABC figures for 2013, the latest available for the Croydon Guardian, put its total average circulation at 62,226 copies made up of free and paid-for titles.
The full editor’s column in the Croydon Guardian
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, our loyal readers, for your patience and understanding over the last few weeks.
You can’t have helped but notice that some elements of this very popular newspaper have unfortunately been missing.
For anyone not aware, we have introduced an entirely new editorial structure and members of the editorial team also took industrial action.
I’m pleased to say the new structure is now in place and strike action has been concluded.
A number of you have, quite rightly, bemoaned the lack of a letters page in your favourite local newspaper and I’m delighted to be able to put this right again and have the opportunity to explain its disappearance for a few weeks.
A number of our processes have now been streamlined and I have tried to simplify some of the ways you can submit items of news, sport and leisure to us.
Send your stories and pictures easily by email. For example, if you have a sports story you can email it to Ali Masud at: sport@london. newsquest.co.uk
If you have a leisure story you can email it Warren Gwillym at: firstname.lastname@example.org
In an effort to get even more of your news stories onto our websites we would like to invite you to publish your own stories on our website.
All you need to do is go to newsshopper.co.uk/sendyournews and then fill in the online form.
Write your article as close to the style of a news story as you can, making sure you include details of the what, who, where and when.
Attach any photos you’ve got to go with it and then click send. This way we can make sure all your items of news, about your school, your club, your family, your friends, in fact news about anything you’re interested in, can appear on our website.
And, what’s more we will then choose news items from our websites to print in the newspaper. So, you can be published online and have a good chance to make it into the newspaper too.
We think this new simplified process will make it easier for you to let us know all your great news.
But, this early days for our new system so if you have any ideas how it can be improved further please do share them with me. Thanks again to all our readers.