19 April 2014

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Johnston Press closes three newspaper offices

Regional publisher Johnston Press has closed three of its weekly newspaper offices in the Midlands as a cost-cutting measure.

The offices of the Belper News in Derbyshire, the Eastwood and Kimberley Advertiser in Nottinghamshire  and the Eckington Leader near Sheffield were closed a week ago today with the loss of at least two receptionists’ jobs.

It means there are now no reporters based in the three towns with the Belper News’ sole reporter relocated to the Ripley and Heanor News office five miles away.

Readers wanting to place an advert or tell their story at the Belper News office in the town are now greeted with a sign on the door stating ‘We have moved’, instructing them to go to the office in neighbouring Ripley.

National Union of Journalists’ Mid-Derbyshire father-of-chapel Mark Duffy said staff were told the closures were to save money but there had been no consultation with union members.

He told HTFP that Belper will lose a reporter based in the town and that receptionists from the Belper and Eastwood offices had been made redundant.

“From an editorial perspective every newspaper should have an office with a reporter in situ” he said.

For the past five years the office in Eastwood had been staffed solely by a receptionist with a reporter based six miles away at Ilkeston.

The Mid-Derbyshire titles come under the Wilfred Edmunds branch of the company which also publishes the Derbyshire Times.

Managing director Dawn Sweeney said: “The company has undertaken a detailed review of all its local offices. Regretfully the current level of business at the Eckington, Eastwood and Belper premises makes them uneconomical to operate and it is proposed that these workplaces will close. ”

She said the titles would continue to be published and existing editorial and advertising staff would serve the communities from Chesterfield, Ilkeston and Ripley.

6 Comments

  1. spy, deepsouth

    Staff levels at many JP offices are so pathetically low that these might not be the last. So much for JPs “local” mantra.

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  2. Desmond Neely

    Thery are also closing their office in Dalkeith, south of Edinburgh and moving 11 jobs to Edinburgh.

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  3. Diana Peasey, Nottingham

    The Hucknall and Bulwell Dispatch has no reporter and the paper is produced by the editor and his deputy. The Dispatch has to borrow a reporter on a weekly basis from the Chad based in Mansfield.

    Newspapers cannot operate like this!

    Is there no pride left in the quality of what’s being produced? And what about the stress levels of the remaining staff?

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  4. Ex-Insider

    “What about the stress levels of the remaining staff?”
    I once attended a newspaper stress management course, designed to show how to identify and deal with stress in the workplace. The next person to go off with stress was the course tutor …

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  5. David, Derbyshire

    Not a surprising piece of news for the Belper News, but the sad demise of a newspaper that was once one of the country’s best examples of small, weekly, regional newspapers is truly saddening.

    I can remember when that office was the hub of the community and the paper was the first stop for news of a vibrant, growing town.

    Sadly over the past few years, the paper seems to have been forgotten by those at the top of the food chain, I believe staffing was infrequent, the focus on securing news slipped and as a result, the readers went away to the much larger Derby Evening Telegraph (even though it has never featured much coverage of Belper).

    With readership now so low, I’m surprised they’ve not closed the paper all together, but I assume they can still sell adverts in it so are keeping it on life-support. Truth is though, readers are not stupid, they’ll see the office is closed, realise the paper is full of week-old stories about Ripley, Heanor and Heage and stop buying it (after all, life is local, isn’t it?)

    Gone by Christmas I’d say. And more to follow.

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  6. Commonsider

    The Belper News is exactly the kind of local newspaper that should be owned and run by a local businessperson rather than a large UK-wide publishing company. It will never deliver the margins that the big publishers want, but I’ll bet it still turns in a tidy enough profit for someone who was primarily interested in providing a local service and getting a bit of local kudos. I reckon JP would find a buyer fairly easily if they wanted out.

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