The Northern Echo has confirmed it is scrapping three of its five editions with the loss of five editorial jobs.
Four reporter positions at the Echo and one at sister title the Darlington and Stockton Times will be axed, though this will be through non-replacement and early retirement rather than redundancies.
But the paper’s editor has moved to allay fears that the edition changes will harm the Echo’s status as a flagship regional title in the North-East.
He said the move to a two-edition structure covering the north and south of the region would mean more, not less, macro-regional news in each edition.
Yesterday’s official announcement came on the same day the paper’s National Union of Journalists’ chapel was due to meet to discuss the plans.
The Newsquest title’s current five editions cover Darlington, South West Durham, Teesside, Durham North and North Yorkshire.
The new structure is due to come into force on July 7.
A company statement said: “Instead of the current five editions the paper’s local, regional and national content will be consolidated into two better, value for money editions with more pages.
“There will also be the option for further editions on a nightly basis, depending on the news agenda in different parts of the region, or significant late-breaking national stories.
“The two core editions will be split into north and south areas, with the north edition designed in line with the boundaries of the new County Durham unitary authority, maintaining The Northern Echo’s position as the paper for County Durham.
“The south edition will focus primarily on Darlington, the wider Tees Valley and North Yorkshire.
“This model will allow the local emphasis to be retained on the front pages and on sport while ensuring that a comprehensive regional service is packaged into the expanded editions.”
Editor Peter Barron added: “During the 28 years I have worked at The Northern Echo, there has been an on-going debate about how the paper’s editions should be structured.
“Many readers have complained that they feel the complexity of the current editions works against them.
“For example, they may live on Teesside but have grown up in Darlington and want to know what’s happening in both areas.
“By simplifying the editions, and increasing the number of pages, we can ease those frustrations.
“More news from across the region will be available to readers of The Northern Echo.”