STV staff fear broadcaster is 'wiping the board clean of digital journalists' in swingeing cuts to news team

Staff at Scottish broadcaster STV fear plans to restructure their news team will “wipe the board clean of digital journalists” and have a “drastic” impact on news output.

The company announced last Wednesday that it planned to cut 34 news jobs as part of the STV News 2020 strategy, alongside hiring a new head of news.

It will also shut down its secondary, loss-making channel STV2 by the end of June, with the loss of a further 25 jobs.

Staff have been asked to apply for voluntary redundancy ahead of Thursday next week.

Press Gazette understands staff are concerned that a new digital team would not include any reporting staff writing original copy, with only social media, video producer and desk manager roles being created.

An STV source told Press Gazette: “We feel like we have no answers on what the future of STV News will look like, so are unable to make a career choice on if this is something we want to be a part of.”

 

In an email sent to staff on Tuesday morning, seen by Press Gazette, STV chief executive Simon Pitts addressed the changes to the news team.

He said: “Our news team deliver the best, most comprehensive and most trusted news service in Scotland. That’s not going to change while I am chief executive.

“But news habits are changing fundamentally and we need to adapt.

“We’ll do this by creating a single, integrated team of multi-skilled journalists delivering news across all platforms, just as our competitors have already done.

“This will bring on-screen benefits, but it will also mean doing things differently and we will work closely with our team through this process, listening to their concerns and ideas to ensure we don’t compromise the quality of our journalism.”

The source added: “It is a very odd interpretation of adaptation to modern news habits when Pitts is wiping the board clean of digital journalists.”

STV held meetings yesterday with senior members of the news team and staff as details of future roles are still being confirmed.

An STV spokesperson was unable to comment further on concerns raised by staff while discussions were ongoing.

But Pitts said last week: “We will work closely with our team through this change process, and we are confident we will able to maintain our hard-fought reputation as Scotland’s best, most comprehensive and most trusted source of news.”

The National Union of Journalists said consultations with STV staff were ongoing.

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