26 January 2015

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Major job cuts announced at Johnston Press titles

Johnston Press is to axe 18 jobs at a group of weekly newspapers in  South Yorkshire and Humberside.

Extensive plans unveiled to staff today will see redundancies sought across South Yorkshire Newspapers, with the biggest impact on the Mexborough-based South Yorkshire Times – the company’s top performing newspaper in recent years.

The posts of editor of both the South Yorkshire Times and Goole Courier will disappear, with those titles coming under the editor of the Selby Times.

The company has blamed the cut-backs on “underperforming advertising and circulation” and the need to reduce costs.

Managing director John Bills said that though 18 redundancies would be made, there were eight vacancies within the company that people would be encouarged to apply for.

Said Mr Bills: “Sheffield Newspapers Ltd, South Yorkshire Newspapers Ltd and Wilfred Edmunds Ltd are planning to work more closely together in order to win a greater share of the advertising market in the North Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and South Yorkshire markets.

“In the event these plans go ahead, the company will endeavour to minimise the impact through re-deployment to alternative positions across Johnston Press and voluntary redundancy.”

The company said a multi media news hub in Doncaster would  serve the Free Press, the Star, the South Yorkshire Times, the Thorne Gazette and the Epworth Bells printed titles and their companion news websites, while the creation of a single news team serving the Selby and Goole area will be based in Selby.

This hub would result in the loss of a reporter’s role at Mexborough as well as an editorial assistant post. Journalists working at the Doncaster centre for the sister Sheffield Star title are also being told that they will now report to the Doncaster editor-in-chief, as well as Sheffield editorial management.

A NUJ chapel official for South Yorkshire said the savage nature of the cull had left staff shocked and devastated.

Chris Morley NUJ Northern & Midlands Organiser said: “These proposals show how flimsy are Johnston Press’s claims to believe in local journalism to serve the communities where its newspapers circulate. How can a newspaper and website properly engage with the town when it has no editor?

“The ironic element here is that in this announcement, the company has chosen to attack the editorial department of one of the best performing title for circulation in its stable.

“The South Yorkshire Times has fought hard for its reputation as a campaigning newspaper that digs out stories people want to read but this seems to cut no ice with the corporate bean counters.”

Chapel members will be holding an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the developments which are expected to be put into place within a month.

Mr Morley said staff were called to a meeting in Doncaster to hear the news. A consultation with management will end on 15 July.


  1. KellyC

    I worked at the Selby Times for two years. I never went to Goole, and passed probably one story every month or so to them. There is literally no crossover. What a silly idea.

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  2. Kathleen Roberts, Harrogate

    As a former South Yorkshire Times reporter, I still take a look at the paper online and it is a great product. A friend who is now resident in Fremantle, Australia commented only last week on how he reads every edition. This is all down to the current editor. Increasing circulation these days is almost unheard of – getting rid of an editor who has managed to do that is bonkers. Has anyone at JP got brain cells in double figures?

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  3. Brandon J, Mexbro

    Former Mexborough resident, and former compositor here.

    The SYT (South Yorkshire Times) is one of the few Johnston Press titles that actually displays some damned GUTS and INTEGRITY, actually doing the job that genuine reporters used to do prior being placed under the yolk of the big, national corporations.

    This is a black day for real journalism, and I truly hope that John Bills will reconsider this rash decision.

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  4. Hacked off


    This is doing my head in!

    The papers’ advertising is “under-performing” so instead of giving the clueless sales reps and their supervisors the boot, the poor bloody journalists get chucked on the dole instead.

    It would be informative to do a backgrounder on all the MDs who have been quoted on HTFP this very Black Friday and see how many of them joined this industry as sales reps.

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  5. Hacked off too !

    I think the previous comments are pretty unfair as reps are not able to do the job they were recruited for. They are tied up with accounts, design and chasing revenue rather than selling. This is a result of cuts previously pushed through by JP, who seem to forget that Advertising sales relies on people spending their time selling to “local” businesses face to face, not over a telephone

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  6. Advertising

    Hacked Off…

    Why is it salespeople are clueless?

    Maybe disgruntled people should get their facts right before waging war on here and posting stories that pass the buck.

    Numerous times I have lost count of errors in papers by editorial, both spelling and gramatical.

    I’m pretty sure the decline in newspaper sales is not down to advertising revenues. It’s down to things like the internet for one, which is far more accessible and FREE. People buy newspapers because of the news stories and if they aren’t up to scratch then people will go elsewhere. They don’t buy them to look at what the local furniture shop is offering in its current sale.

    Having worked previously in the music industry I have seen a similar thing with record production becoming virtually redundant thanks to the MP3.

    Times are moving on… roll with the changes… don’t blame one department… business success is down to team effort… in this case, maybe that is what needs to be looked at….

    By the way Hacked Off… I could do your job… I bet you couldn’t do mine!

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  7. Last Man Standing, On the edge.

    Hardly surprising. The SYT’s circulation is under 5,000 a week and heading south. And it’s hysterical, sub-tabloid crap.
    Much more interesting is the extension of the “sub hub”concept into the “multi-media news hub” in which reporters will be expected to cover huge areas and regurgitate (sorry, “repurpose” ) the same stories over and over again for several different titles.

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  8. South Yorkshire Times reader, Mexborough

    A disgrace! The South Yorkshire times will now, no doubt be promptly merged with the Doncaster Free Press. A travesty.

    Mexborough has been home to the South Yorkshire Times for many decades. Over recent years it has enjoyed a revival, which can be attributed to the great editorship of Jim Oldfield, who has steered the paper from being the ad-heavy, news-light rag that it was maybe five years ago, to the rich source of local news that it is today.

    JP’s management should be ashamed of themselves. Destroying a paper that is part of a town’s heritage, whilst they can rest on their laurels and no doubt retire with a big fat pension, having done little that has directly benefited the South Yorkshire Times.

    Oh well, as long as *DONCASTER* still has its local paper, that’s all that matters…

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  9. South Yorkshire Times reader

    @Last Man Standing, On the edge, who is responsible for low circulation figures? The editor, or the management that dictate the paper must be filled to the rafters with adverts?

    I suggest you have a careful read of the story below, which came as no surprise to me when I read it, such is the dedication of the SYT editor and [some of] his reporters:


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  10. Advertising

    South Yorkshire Times Reader… I’m sure it’s the headline that sells the paper. Do you buy a paper because of the front page headline or becasue your favourite bed store may be running a special sale advert..?

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  11. Hack It

    I think the key thing to remember here is that this proposal will have a hit on both editorial and advertising jobs. Rather than back-biting over whose “fault” it is, everyone should stick together and work for a positive outcome for all.

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  12. South Yorkshire Times reader, Mexborough

    @Advertising – I’m unsure as to where you’re going with this to be honest…

    I buy the paper because I want to read good quality news about my local area.

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