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Strike action looms at North-West newspapers

Journalists at the Blackpool Gazette and Herald are holding industrial action on Monday as part of an on-going dispute over proposed changes at the papers.

The National Union of Journalists announced today that its chapel would be working strictly to contract and staging a mandatory meeting.

It comes following a vote earlier this month as parent company Johnston Press looks to introduce its new Atex content management system.

The NUJ says the company is failing to consult meaningfully over the changes which would see reporters writing copy and headlines onto template pages.

NUJ northern organiser Chris Morley said: “Johnston Press has used up all the reserves of goodwill among its journalists and it is now running on empty.

“This means a lot more than mere terminology: successful local newspapers depend to a great extent on the goodwill of professional journalists to produce a publication that is informative and meets the needs of readers.

“At the Blackpool Gazette and Herald NUJ members are putting exploitation of that goodwill into sharp focus with a day of protest to show that they are reaching breaking point.

“Our members are aware that the introduction at breakneck speed of the Atex production system in other parts of the Johnston Group empire has been a shambles.”

Johnston Press had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.


Fed up (18/03/2010 20:19:43)
I say good on anyone who strikes against this shambles of a company. I use Atex, it is a pile of rubbish. It is ridiculously slow, you can open a page and watch it disappear in front of your eyes, NOTHING works. But it’s ok, the pen pushers at the top of the table think cutting subs, ripping of reporters with new responsibility and no more pay, and a crap system which only works in their money grabbing wharped minds is the way forward. Pound signs in front of their eyes have clouded the fact that THIS WILL NOT WORK. But they carry on and on, making people uproot their lives with no certainty about their jobs. Why oh why did they change a system that worked so well to one that is the worst thing invented into the newspaper world.

Scribbler (19/03/2010 08:28:02)
Actually the Atex system, in theory, is a good one. The problem is JP has vastly underestimated how many people it takes to use it. With every new system there are bound to be problems, but IT are swamped with calls and aren’t able to deal with them efficiently because they don’t have enough staff. Also, despite what JP thinks, Atex does not negate the need for all subs. Pages still need to be designed around the news, even if ‘page furniture’ can be lifted straight in around the main story. And pages still need to be read thoroughly which reporters don’t always have the time (or, sorry, the expertise) to do. Much as we all would like to think we don’t make mistakes, the company’s ‘right first time’ mantra is simply ludicrous and opens up the company to legal errors.