21 April 2014

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Jobs set to go as Yorkshire daily newsrooms merge

Up to 19 jobs are set to go as two Johnston Press-owned dailies in Yorkshire merge their editorial teams.

Earlier this the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post were combined under a single editor-in-chief in the shape of Peter Charlton.

Now the two Leeds-based titles are proposing to combine their entire newsrooms with the loss of 19 jobs overall.

Nine voluntary redundancies have already been accepted and a further ten are being sought with a sports editor role and the post of YEP business editor among those under threat.

Among those leaving the YP are the associate features editor, chief content editor, senior content editor and rural affairs correspondent.

YEP staff departing include the news editor, deputy news editor, crime correspondent and sports content editor.

Other roles at risk of redundancy include those of Halifax reporter YP, features content editor YEP, head of digital operations, chief designer, a sports journalist role and three secretarial roles.

An internal memo circulated to staff this week said the changes would address the duplication of roles and achieve greater efficiencies, while maintaining a differentiation between the two titles.

Johnston Press chief operating officer Danny Cammiade said in a statement:  “Following a strategic review of the Yorkshire Evening Post and Yorkshire Post editorial operation, it is proposed to combine these two departments into one team.

“Working in this way will allow the company to address he duplication of jobs covered while still allowing each newspaper to develop in its own right. Our plan allows for title differentiation with some key journalists working exclusively for one  product.

“Should this proposal go ahead there would be a total loss of 19 roles.  To mitigate these losses voluntary redundancies were initially sought and 9 have been accepted; we will endeavour to minimise the impact of the remaining roles through further voluntary severance and redeployment.

“We anticipate that this consultation would be complete by the end of July 2012.”

The integration of the two titles began earlier this year with the announcement that the editor roles were being combined.

YP editor Peter and his YEP counterpart Paul Napier were expected to go head-to-head for the role before Paul landed the group-wide role of editorial development director.

The National Union of Journalists, which estimates the changes will save JP £600,000 a year on its wages bill, has already condemned the plan.

Joint father of chapel and office branch chairman Peter Lazenby said:  “One again Johnston Press is responding to its financial situation with a policy of slash and burn.

“We know that regional newspapers are in decline, but the situation at Johnston Press has been vastly exacerbated by financial incompetence, mismanagement and bad judgement at the most senior levels of management.

“Over a period of years the editorial workforce at the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post has fallen by half. Circulations are in steady decline. The sacking of staff will simply reduce the quality of our papers and hasten their decline.”

General secretary Michelle Stanistreet added:  “”These cuts will have a disastrous impact on journalism and demonstrate the glaring weakness in the strategy Johnston Press is banking on to claw the company back out its self-inflicted debt.

“Without quality journalism and properly resourced titles, the company has no chance of reviving its fortunes. ”

Peter said there would now be a union meeting of staff at the papers to discuss a response to the proposed job losses.

Currently there are believed to be around 123 editorial staff at the two papers.  The union says the proposed job cuts represent 15pc of the workforce.

14 Comments

  1. Jeremy Deacon

    Oh dear…..It’s is terrible seeing the slow death of a great newspaper.

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  2. Barbarossa, Beyond the rim

    So ends the golden age.

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  3. phnurg

    Another day, another JP bloodbath…now if they’d only target the real culprits behind the corporate collapse…

    dream on

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  4. Curious

    The only differentiation between the two titles will be the masthead.

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  5. TheFoxInTheBox

    Big, big shame and my sympathies go to staff at both titles. Journalism loses out, as do the readers; and yes, there are still tens of thousands of the latter in Leeds – it’s just they are choosing to consume their news using different methods.

    These are the latest victims of an industry that failed to re-invent itself in time.

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  6. Bob Walker, Nottingham

    As a former EP staffer I can only feel sympathy for my colleagues. Sad to say this story is repeated throughout the industry….print and broadcasting.

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  7. paperboy

    The NUJ can condemn all they like.
    It’s done
    End of.

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  8. snapper

    And next they save on two titles and merge into one and then it becomes the weekly yorkshire news….

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  9. JPworker, Leeds

    The cuts are not as bad as some of us feared, but they are bad enough.

    More volunteers may yet come forward to go as the YEP is changing hours from an 8am start to 9.30am with a finish at 5.30pm instead of 4pm. There will also be a much later evening shift.

    On one hand, it’s good to be able to get much later breaking stories in the paper, this is long overdue, but on the other, there are a lot of staff with young families who will find it very difficult to sort out different childcare arrangements. Hard to see how the number of staff with these issues will be able to be accommodated with family friendly hours.

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  10. Stu Arnold

    Sad, but inevitable. The days of provincial daily newspapers existing side by side along each other but with distinct staff are over.

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  11. Rupert Bear

    The post from JPworker really illustrates the social changes of recent decades.

    In my days on a regional daily paper (admittedly now a long time ago) , the very idea that childcare arrangements could be allowed to have an impact on an individual’s working life was a virtually unknown factor.

    Editorial staff were expected to be available to work at virtually any time of the day or evening, seven days a week. Thinking back, although there were at least as many women in the newsroom and features department as men, I don’t think any of them had any .
    children.

    I am certainly not saying the ‘old days’ were better, but simply pointing up the immense changes in attitudes.

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  12. Neil Hodge

    I empathise with anyone who loses their job. However, I have never understood how financially feasible it is to have two sets of newspapers duplicating much of the same content with two sets of ring-fenced staff in the same building.

    I did some work experience as a trainee with the Yorkshire Post in the late 1990s and found it bizarre that you could have 3-4 journalists from the same building effectively working on the same 200-250 word story, with two photographers then going out separately to do pictures. The Northern Echo – which also housed the Darlington & Stockton Times – operated in exactly the same way: on one occasion, there were 5 of us from two newspapers at a story about naming guide-dog puppies.

    It is still possible to publish two strong and distinct titles using pooled resources: it should also result in a wider spread of content, and deeper coverage. Some commentators on the site complain about slash and burn and financial mismanagement and poor editorial leadership – that is fine. However, they should also consider how newspapers have been able to go on for so long with such a duplication of work.

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  13. GladImOutOfIt

    Neil, you are right. Except that in the days when the YP and the YEP were genuinely different papers, before the 90s, they had different agendas. The YP was the Times of Yorkshire – heavyweight, rural, agricultural and political; the YEP was AKA the Leeds Evening Post, and it was Leeds’s local evening paper. They were two very different animals. By the late 90s the rot was well set in.

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  14. Barbarossa, Beyond the rim

    “Editorial staff were expected to be available to work at virtually any time of the day or evening, seven days a week. Thinking back, although there were at least as many women in the newsroom and features department as men, I don’t think any of them had any .
    children.

    “I am certainly not saying the ‘old days’ were better, but simply pointing up the immense changes in attitudes. ”

    …and we all know the bunch of sociopaths that those attitudes bred on newsdesks, top tables and in editors’ offices. And I hope Rupert Bear would agree.
    The gift of hindsight now allows me to see the amount of bullying that went on earlier in my career..
    On one evening I worked on I saw newly-arrived youngsters from weeklies hounded daily by news editors who prided themselves on having no social life or relationships outside journalism, broken marriages and tunnel vision. I know of two youngsters who could not take any more, bit the bullet and returned to their previous jobs.
    Happily, there is a God, and one or two of these sociopaths have had their own personal traumas since.
    I am now out of regional journalism and would not recommend any of my extended family to go into the business. It’s gone.

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