Two central production hubs covering seven daily newspapers in the East Midlands and North-East are set to be created by Northcliffe Media.
Up to 50 sub-editing jobs could be under threat if plans for the two “production centres of excellence” in Nottingham and Hull go ahead.
In a separate development, sister company Harmsworth Press is also proposing the closure of its printing plant in Leicester which currently prints the Mercury.
The company has begun a formal 30-day period of consultation over the possible closure which would affect up to 66 press staff.
A statement issued by Northcliffe this afternoon said the plans were designed to meet “the rapidly changing needs of the industry.”
“The proposed changes involve a regional approach to editorial production. Editors, however, will be fully responsible for their titles to preserve the local identity of the newspapers and websites,” it said.
The company said that editors were entering into a consultation process with staff in editorial production roles, but stressed that no firm decisions had been taken.
According to the statement, around 50 positions could be affected if the editorial production proposals go ahead.
On the Leicester print closure, the company said it was “not unusual for regional daily newspapers to be printed at locations away from the publishing business.”
It said that if the closure plans go ahead, printing of the Mercury and other newspapers will be switched to one of the remaining Northcliffe presses where there is capacity for more titles to be accommodated.
Northcliffe had previously announced plans to centralise production of its Staffordshire titles at The Sentinel offices in Stoke, and a number of its West Country weekly titles at its Bristol centre.
Johnston Press is also planning a centralised subbing operation for its titles in Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire and parts of East Anglia.
The National Union of Journalists this afternoon hit out at the Northcliffe plans, accusing the company of “a total lack of committment to local journalism.”
Northern regional organiser Chris Morley said: “Local knowledge will go out of the window.”
Brenda (23/02/2009 15:17:09)
I think this is disgusting!
Lis Gibbs (23/02/2009 15:23:55)
This is an awful decision. I am appalled.
carmel harrison (23/02/2009 15:24:56)
This is appalling. Centralised subbing never works. How can regional titles retain their integrity when management are doing things like this?
All Subbed Out (23/02/2009 15:30:01)
So in the opinion of Northcliffe, its own motto ‘At The Heart Of All Things Local’ does not necessarily include having pages subbed by anyone with any decent local knowledge of the area, just someone within 100 miles who might vaguely have heard of some of the places, people and communities being written about. Anyone care to bet against Northcliffe’s next step being outsourcing to ‘local’ production centres in Delhi?
Chris Youett, amcmi, amimis, ambcs (23/02/2009 15:31:04)
If UK media management believes that it is “normal” to print local evening papers remotely from the markets they serve, then why isn’t everyone else doing it?
If they believe what they are doing is correct, then all evening papers should be printed in Carlisle as this is the cheapest site.
I would love them to shew where central subbing pools work as they have never done so in the past – and that was when we had lots more highly-trained staff to do it.
Derby Ram (23/02/2009 15:43:51)
Production centres of excellence… Joke surely.
Cadmus (23/02/2009 15:58:49)
They’ve obviously been listening to Roy Greenslade
Mr_Osato (23/02/2009 16:08:13)
How will ‘Editors… be fully responsible for their titles to preserve the local identity of the newspapers and websites’ when they’re not where the papers are being put together. Or maybe the editors are being centralised as well? Whichever way, it’s cobblers. What little local flavour newspapers have is slowly being stripped away by the McNewspaper groups, with these ‘centres of mediocrity’ a prime example
diana peasey (23/02/2009 16:21:20)
Why do papers think it is ‘cool’ to cut subs! Surely, this immediately undermines the quality of journalism, undermines the credibility of papers by not eliminating spelling mistakes and grammer,nor double checking that a story is balanced and not open to defamation. Or does that not count these days? What about the poor subs who remain. The pressure, the stress of increased workloads. It means the subbing bench will become no less than a sweat shop.
Dead ringer (23/02/2009 16:24:54)
Utter tosh, the whole thing. Again, all the top jobs will be protected, and the poor subs bear the brunt of everything. How is anyone going to move from Lincoln to Hull, for example? And I agree with earlier post. How are eds going to maintain the standards if they are elsewhere? And if they are in Hull, how are they going to know what is going on in their own patch? Deplorable, but sadly inevitable. Mind, I wager there’ll still be the same management structure. Can’t lose chiefs, can we!!
The Miser (23/02/2009 16:30:22)
What about the bigger picture.
in this climate reginal centres cannot be protect. so yes its great a local paper subed by local people.
but how many of those staff where born and bread within the area.
also yes stay local keep loads of staff then go bust as overheads and wages are greater than the revenue coming into the company. sometimes editrial bubble needs to burst and they need to come out and into the real world. the rest of the indusrty has allready gone through this and editorial has been protected. notice they did not say anything about that. but when it affects them the teddy gets chucked.
cadmus (23/02/2009 16:38:01)
Any subs left to tackle that last post?
F. Johnston (23/02/2009 16:44:25)
All these places already have ‘production centres of excellence.’
What they are talking about is ‘production centres of economy’.
Jim (23/02/2009 16:46:40)
Since when have Hull, Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Lincoln etc been in the North-East? Or has “local knowledge” already “gone out of the window”?
Matt Merritt (23/02/2009 16:54:05)
As Dead Ringer points out, Miser, papers could easily cut costs by paying senior management and executives rather less, and by trimming a few of them from the wages bill. After all, they are the people who are responsible if the papers are in trouble. Or are they only happy to take credit for the good times?
This is an appalling decision.
All Subbed Out (23/02/2009 17:04:08)
Editorial staff are well aware, The Miser, how other departments have been affected. And we are equally as concerned. Local knowledge is just as crucial when it comes to getting advertising right, spelling place names correctly, and having sales reps who actually know what’s going on in their area and are prepared to do the legwork with businesses which are opening, moving, closing or expanding. But they, too, have all been centralised, streamlined, put into non-geographical categorised teams etc etc etc, meaning just the same kind of disconnection with local markets and customers that reporters and subs are increasingly facing. Advertising is out there to be won, but there are too many constraints and protocols against good old-fashioned salespeople going out there and getting it. As for adverts being created and set by teams who have never heard of some of the places woth they am spelling, don’t get me started….
Disgusted, of Derby (23/02/200
I can’t believe the Derby Evening Telegraph plans to get rid of its sub-editors by making half of them redundant and shipping those that remain to a centralised subbing pool over the border in Shottingham. Isn’t this the same newspaper that ran it’s “Hoot” campaign only a few months ago to keep Inland Revenue jobs in Derby instead of sending them down the A52? And now the DET plans to do exactly the same! HYPOCRITES! This would be funny were it not such a farce.
Northcliffe Old-Hand (24/02/2009 10:55:15)
The reason the men in the dark suits are doing this is simple:they are no longer interested in newspapers. The print era is finished. Proprietors can’t even sell newspaper titles now, you have to give them away for £1 to Russian playboys. The business of producing newspapers is still Victorian – labour intensive, over-mechanised and with expensive transport distribution.
The decks are being cleared for the future – the digital world. Everything has to go on-line if the industry is to survive. Ever story, every photo, every display Ad, every classified. Believe in the Net.
Dave (24/02/2009 11:00:39)
But, Old-Hand, I use the internet at work. If I lose my job I won’t be able to afford the internet at home, meaning I won’t be able to read my local paper. Bah.
Phase One (24/02/2009 11:35:42)
This is Phase One. Phase Two invloves a low cost media transfer to Kerala. This will cut overheads and keep our newspapers prosperous for years to come. All hail the new revolution. Tomorrow is finally hear. Cheap Cheap
Jim (24/02/2009 11:36:51)
Northcliffe old hand, you’re thinking is part of the problem that has caused stories like this. The internet offers huge opportunities for expansion and is a massive part of everyones future. HOWEVER the internet will not totally wipe out newspaper publishing. The VALUE of the two media’s is completely different to both advertisers and readers! The ease of publication on the internet is also its downfall! It lacks credibility! Yes sales will fall and the market will have to adjust but do you really believe that the future will consist of only one media? If life were that simple it would be easy but it never is!
Incidentily although the fat cats could certainly do with cutting back but the failiure of newspapers is not thier “fault” Its market conditions. The market is King.
EX-SUB (24/02/2009 12:28:51)
Northcliffe titles are only too quick to report on the demise of local business and industry.
Pity they don’t report on their own job cuts.
Another Northcliffe Old-Hand (24/02/2009 12:30:41)
Jim, the recession has simply accelerated the demise of print media. Once a reader stops buying a newspaper they very quickly learn to do without it and do not return when circumstances change. Advertisers were already taking their budgets online. In this recession every business is questioning the effectiveness of their marketing budget. The businesses that survive will not go back to print media in the same way as they were using it before. This is particularly true of estate agents, motor dealers and employers looking to recruit staff. Sadly, by ‘tinkering in the margins’ and failing to invest its huge profits for over a decade regional press has completely missed the opportunity to realign its business . Search engines, directories, classified platforms and premium content are the winners online. Google, Rightmove, Autotrader etc etc have taken the high ground and will come through the crunch with a greater market share. The cost of entry now is prohibitive. Regional press (particularly Northcliffe/DMGT) had the opportunity to lead these markets ten years ago but the editors and managers of the day were too frightened of cannibalising print revenue and simply did not comprehend the new order on the horizon. Yes, there will always be people who want to buy newspapers but the business of publishing them will simply not add up. The pain being felt by journalists and other staff today is a result of decisions taken (or not taken) many years ago.
Pessimist (24/02/2009 12:43:54)
However you look at it, the rot that has set in Northcliffe, and pretty well everywhere else, is never going to be halted until the inevitable happens. That is to say regular libel actions against newspapers in the courts, which will hit Northcliffe where it hurts the most – its pockets. In my experience, subs are the last guardian against such action and they are necessary in the extreme to protect quality, balance and the newspaper itself. Perhaps we should all become ‘ambulance chasers’ for firms of solicitors. Now there’s a thought.
Wannabe Accountant (24/02/2009 12:50:29)
Northcliffe coud save a few quid by getting rid of some editors and deputy editors.
Evere seen the result when reporters sub their own copy?
Local knowledge is everything.
Jambo (24/02/2009 15:32:23)
There is a great thing on Yahoo called Yahoo Answers. You can basically post any question you like and hundreds of thousands of users can answer it, if they like. I’ve been using it to try and gauge what people think of their local rags; I post questions like “Why do you buy your local newspaper?”. And they all say that they really, really value local news – they value detail, thoroughness, and most of all the “localness” of it – they WANT to read about people they are close to, perhaps people they know or have known. Cuts that are going on are just really ripping it all to shreds – our unique selling point – LOCAL – is being devalued by cutting staff. Soon, local newspapers are just going to be a load of rubbish. Quality sells newspapers! They should remember that!
Jambo (24/02/2009 15:35:16)
“The VALUE of the two media’s is completely different to both advertisers and readers!” – Well said that man. I wish some of the bloggers out there would understand that instead of just constantly proclaiming (with satisfaction, I wonder) “The End”.
Sub at one of the centres (for now) (24/02/2009 16:09:27)
Oh, if you could see some of the clangers coming from newsdesk today. The shape of things to come (in print) it seems. RIP local papers. Quality is simply going to nosedive. I hope you’re proud of yourselves, Northcliffe.
NeilMarr (25/02/2009 17:25:21)
WannabeAccountant said: “Evere seen the result when reporters sub their own copy?
I rest my case. Neil