Journalists at The Scotsman walked out of their Edinburgh headquarters yesterday afternoon following the shock departure of editor John McLellan.
NUJ members left the Scotsman’s Holyrood Road HQ to hold an emergency chapel meeting in which they drafted a series of questions for management seeking assurances on whether there are plans for further cost-cutting or restructuring measures.
Johnston management has since contacted NUJ Scottish organiser Paul Holleran and a meeting with members has been scheduled for Tuesday morning.
McLellan became the latest victim of Johnston’s efforts to flatten its management structure when he was placed on leave with immediate effect yesterday.
It came a day after the company announced the editorships of the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post were being combined and that both Peter Charlton and Paul Napier had been placed under risk of redundancy.
It also emerged on Wednesday that Lancashire Evening Post editor Simon Reynolds had been placed on leave and that deputy editor positions at the Lancashire Evening Post, the Blackpool Gazette and the Wigan Evening Post were being scrapped.
Some journalists inside Johnston Press are speculating that the cuts are linked with the company’s decision last month to delay publication of its annual report by three weeks in order to continue talks on renegotiating its debt.
However, Press Gazette understands that the delay is more likely to be due to the large number of organisations involved in the banking syndicate and the need to get every bank to sign off the agreement.
A leading media analyst told Press Gazette: “Banks aren’t going to say, ‘we want these changes of personnel’. They don’t have that level of interest and aren’t going to micro-manage changing staff.
‘I would that say while the two are linked in terms of the overall need for Johnston to manage their cost-base effectively, banks frankly just don’t have the time to worry about individual staff members.”
Following yesterday’s walkout Holleran said: “The chapel are obviously angry and concerned, John was well respected as an editor and people want some answers about the company plans and long term commitment to the titles.
‘I get the impression management want to reassure staff but this has massively disconcerted all the journalists across Johnston Press in Scotland.
‘We want to retain the good industrial relations with the company the union has enjoyed in recent years but need assurances on how future cuts are going to be handled and that the management will meet the level of consultation we expect.”
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