The trauma caused to employees by Northcliffe’s abrupt u-turn on its 18-month-old regional production hub strategy has been highlighted by the NUJ. And the union has suggested that an editors’ revolt was behind the change of tack.
It emerged yesterday that after displacing sub-editors from regional centres across the country to work at six production factories across the UK, Northcliffe was now moving a reduced number of production journalists back to local titles – with at least 50 jobs set to go.
NUJ North and Midlands organiser Chris Morley said: “Northcliffe management are guilty of gross incompetence in driving through a discredited hub system that anyone with any sense knew would fail, and now, just 18 months later, that is exactly what has happened.
“While we welcome a return of production back to its communities, this has come at yet another unacceptable cost – the loss of another key layer of experienced journalists and loading of more tasks on those left such as already overstretched reporters.
“This is hugely damaging – not just for staff who have been left bewildered by the company’s contradictory actions, but also, crucially, for the cities served by the affected titles.In Nottingham, for example, the Nottingham Post now has only 11 reporters compared to 25, four years ago
“The actions are driven by the revolt of editors against a system that they always knew was flawed but failed to stand up to at the time. Now it is yet another naked grab for further unsustainable profits on the back of mass redundancies. The key question is how do Northcliffe managers expect the same quality and volume of content to be maintained within the law on working hours?
“As usual the NUJ will be working hard to guide its members through this terrible mess and to defend them as much as possible against the damage being done to their own titles.”
One of the many unanswered questions about this strange saga is why Northcliffe, and other publishers, feel the need to physically move sub-editors around the country so much. Surely, with today’s technology it would be cheaper and more humane to simply get sub-editors to work from home?