20 December 2014

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Johnston Press to close five more newspaper offices

Five more local newspaper offices are set to close in South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire as the cutbacks at Johnston Press continue.

The regional publisher is to shut the main offices of the Matlock Mercury and Ripley and Heanor News together with those of the South Yorkshire Times in Mexborough and two satellite offices of the Mansfield Chad in Mansfield town centre and Sutton-in-Ashfield.

It means the Mercury has now lost its long-serving editor, Amanda Hatfield, and its Firs Parade office in the town within the space of a month.

Johnston Press says the newspapers will continue to be staffed by editorial teams “working locally” but it is as yet unclear where their journalists will be based.

The proposed office closures come little more than a year after those of sister titles the Belper News, the Eckington Leader and the Kimberley Advertiser.

At the time, the Belper News’ sole reporter was relocated to the Ripley office five miles away, but now that too is to close.

The proposed closures were announced to staff in a memo by John Bills, managing director of JP’s North Midlands and South Yorkshire business unit, which has been seen by HTFP.

Johnston Press has declined to comment further on the plans, which are expected to lead to the equivalent of 4.5 full-time posts being lost.

The memo stated:  “Following a detailed review of the reception office foot-fall and business activity in the town, the company proposes to close five offices; Matlock, Sutton, Mansfield Marketplace, Ripley and Mexborough.

“All titles currently produced from these offices will continue to be published with the local editorial content being created by the same teams who will continue to work locally.

“Local reporters and sales staff will continue to cover these areas through agreed contact points and regular reporter surgeries.

“These arrangements will be complemented, where appropriate, by a presence in the offices of organisations such as tourist information centres and community groups to support our local community engagement.

“As a result if this proposal were to be implemented there would be a headcount reduction of 4.5 FTE.

“Prior to any implementation, we will consult extensively on an individual and collective basis. During this consultation process we will explain the procedure, consider all alternatives, examine ways of mitigating the effects of this proposal, determine redundancy terms and address any other issues that may arise.

“We anticipate that this consultation process will be complete by 13 July 2012.

“In the event this proposal goes ahead, the company will endeavour to minimise the impact of the proposal through voluntary redundancy and re-deployment to alternative positions within the company and the group.”

28 Comments

  1. heard it all before

    Every JP statement seems to start with the doom-laden words ‘Following a detailed review…’ There are so many detailed reviews going on at the moment it’s amazing anything else gets done. Reporters are told to keep intros fresh even if they’ve done similar stories before, can management take note, or maybe ask for some training?

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  2. Corporal Clegg

    How to run a successful media company:
    1: Cut staff to the bare bones
    2: Cut overheads by making staff work out of their cars, the nearest cafe, or at home where they can pay for their own heat and light.
    et voila!
    JP – laugh a minute!

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  3. John Stone

    I wonder how many ‘Johnston Press’ cutbacks stories we have had over the past two years.

    My guess is 63.

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  4. JP staffer, Leeds

    Everyone in Wellington St in Leeds wonders when we’ll get an exciting opportunity to work out of a local cafe. The YPN building is at least half empty, dilapidated and dirty. The day we move out into something with adequate heating and better ventilation can’t come soon enough for most of us.

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  5. Ex-SYT oldie, Barnsley

    What a sad day for the once proud South Yorkshire Times with its near 50,000 circulation, more than 30 change pages spread over several editions every week and a fine reputation for training top class journalists. And we had fun! Happy days indeed.

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  6. KellyC

    I wonder if they’re going to provide cars for these reporters to work out of? Or WiFi? Or decent, fast laptops? Nope. Didn’t think so. I wonder if the local Starbucks is aware that JP is shortly going to be running several newspapers from its premises.

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  7. BeenThereDoneThat, The North

    Unless I missed it, the news about Pocklington is yet to leak out. So it looks as if this is still not yet the whole iceberg – by several kilometers of vertical ice.

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  8. Digger

    Perhaps it would save a lot of time and space if Johnston Press just issues a list of the ones that are still o[en for business

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  9. JP Worker

    Anyone know the latest on the ‘ad creation to India’ debacle ?

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  10. Suedehead

    These Johnston Press announcements are by now akin to ‘dog bites man’ stories. What a dreadful employer.
    Presumably they’ll be outsourcing their readers to an offshore operation soon?
    Any smart entrepreneur could do worse than open a few cheap-rent offices in these places and set up a rival newspaper.
    It’s be interesting to see how JP would react to a competitor – without a big debt burden – taking advertisers and readers off them.
    Not to mention decent journalists.

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  11. former employee

    Welcome to Johnston Press Airlines where the crew are skilled and dedicated but the pilots have never flown before….no need for alarm!!!!!!!!!!

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  12. wastepaperbasket

    The proposed closures were announced to staff in a memo by John Bills — “As a result if this proposal were to be implemented there would be a headcount reduction of 4.5 FTE”. —- What a terrible way to tell people their going on the dole. Absolutely disgusting.

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  13. JumpedShip

    Apparently the Rushden office of the Northants Telegraph is about to close too. Brilliant.

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  14. Paul

    Has any paper run a successful reporters’ surgery?

    At different titles I’ve worked on which have lost district offices, reporters have been sent to a supermarket, cafe, hotel for a few hours, no-one’s turned up to speak to them and within a few weeks they’ve knocked it on the head.

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  15. The Beast of Belper

    @kellyc Wifi? Starbucks? You’ve obviously never been to Mexborough.

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  16. Seamus Mahone

    Will the last one out please turn off the lights?

  17. Runaway Ed

    “These arrangements will be complemented, where appropriate, by a presence in the offices of organisations such as tourist information centres and community groups to support our local community engagement.”
    ——————————————————————————————
    Imagine if a load of other industries simply decided to save on business rates etc and sent their office staff to work on the streets, from cafes and community halls. Empty offices adding to the empty shops everywhere. A real ‘cuckoo in the nest’ mentality where you just nick other people’s facilities while remaining a commercial entity.

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  18. Watching from afar

    And so there it is, Johnston continues to rip apart well established and respected local newspapers, which have served their communities for donkeys’ years.
    As a former page production bod, I can remember putting together the change pages that ‘ex SYT Oldie’ speaks of. If my memory serves me correctly, (and this is the recent past) The SYT was a very popular read at that time, under the editorship of Linda Waslidge. I know there are dedicated staff on that paper (as is always the case in these matters) and it’s hateful to think of yet more skilled staff on the scrapheap.
    JP are ripping hearts from communities in an age where the last community hubs like post offices are a dying breed. It’s such a shame.

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  19. Canny Street Kid, Sheffield

    Oh for the days of S.C. Hacking, Tom Dennett, Alan Banks, etc. What would they think now of the weekly newspaper of which they were so proud?

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  20. Bob Miller, Antrim

    Do JP own these offices they are closing?

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  21. hacker, Sheffield

    Another Friday, another JP nail in the coffin…

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  22. Michael Fay, Huddersfield

    Although a youngster by weekly paper standards the Mercury will be much missed in Matlock because despite the management speak spin this is a closure. The Mercury started as a free sheet in 1947 and grew into a fully fledged newspaper in 1952. My late father Sam Fay was the first editor stayed for several years and was followed by such luminaries as Barry Askew and most recently Amanda Hatfield. Who now will keep a check on the local councils, including the County Council and all the other public bodies in the area?

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  23. Concerned snapper, Belfast

    They are have also consulted with staff in Northern Ireland this week seeking voluntary redundancies across all of their titles. This includes photographers, editors etc.

    Report this comment

  24. Patriot Bear

    JP reporters – especially on weekly titles – are being worked to death because the staffing aint there.

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  25. ex hack

    It’s a sad day when every single office I worked in is now shut or slated for closure.
    These papers might not have been the biggest but they served the community with grass roots news that is ignored or marginalised by the larger media.
    Sadly I guessed this was the way local newspapers were heading so jumped ship to PR yearS ago, only problem is, there will be no local media to send the press releases to soon if this bunch of axe men have their way.
    Sad times.

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  26. Steve Russell, Greater Manchester

    We have to look at why offices are closing and reverse that trend? Is it because overheads are high? Why don’t they do more competitions (where new kitchens /gifts are donated etc) just in the newspapers and not online? Its the online news reading which are killing papers as we know, there are also less incentives to buy like bingo and competitions etc but thats mainly because for the kids and those in a rush its a quick fix of news they want, they filter out the other stuff they dont want so its easier to read online. In a way, i hope the manchester evening news does go under eventually because its become so biased towards the Labour party and “gossipy” and annoyingly it showcases labour members and constantly bleats on what good community champions they are when many in reality, many are on DLA, get put up for awards and accolades and a few have been helped set up tenants associations to channel funding away from other groups etc. We know this and have evidence but if we present that to a left wing rag what happens? They will not publish! Too much politicking again, we amateurs arent able to expose this though are we? as we are not in the NUJ? That makes better news surely? Especially in the hands of Trinity Mirror amongst many the MEN is now called the Communist Times! I think its demise would serve to get more people involved in proper local investigative journalism, we need that change in our local papers maybe, i know a few who do it in their spare time because the council that reigns over us is a complete joke and needs exposing. There will always be an outlet for proper newsmaking come what may. The Mule is also a bit lefty, but at least it isnt in the back pockets of Manchester City Council. Im sure this isnt the only council that needs more scrutiny under the watchful gaze of the local rag though be an interesting few years ahead thats for sure!….

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  27. hard press-ed

    Phew! Started off agreeing with Steve Russell’s sentiments the first two or three sentences, then his anti-union, anti-Labour rant began, just the kind of user-generated content I’m sure will be filling our JP papers when most of the other professional journalists have left the building.

    One thing’s for sure, cutting journalist numbers back to the bone and closing down local offices will do nothing but accelerate the decline in weeklies’ circulations. Is that what JP really wants?

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  28. Dearne Valley Reader

    How was JP able to borrow billions to buy up titles all over the country, just to make thousands redundant.
    Independently owned Barnsley Chronicle is selling well in Mexborough whereas a few years ago it would have had no chance, now with the last remaining connection of South Yorkshire Times to Mexborough being taken away, I feel that sadly its days are numbered. Such a shame for a paper that for many years printed 5 editions in Mexborough and its proud owners, some captains in other industries, must be turning in their graves. The editor for many many years at SYT was sharoot smoking Dick Ridyard and he was a legend in his own lifetime, he will definitely be turning over. Such a shame for such a great paper.

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