30 July 2014

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Long-serving staff head for exit as daily prepares to go weekly

A trio of journalists with nearly 120 years’ service between them are set to bow out as a regional daily prepares to go weekly.

As first revealed by HTFP last month, the Halifax Courier is among five Johnston Press-owned dailies making the switch to weekly publication at the end of May.

The proposed change has led to seven voluntary redundancies in the Courier newsroom, with veteran womens’ editor Diane Crabtree and production editor Richard Porter among those set to leave.

And in an unexpected development, long-serving Hebden Bridge Times reporter Norman Masters – whose role was not originally affected by the plan – also volunteered for redundancy, freeing up a role for one of the Courier journalists under threat.

With another Courier staffer also finding work elsewhere, it meant a reduction in the number of planned redundancies from nine to seven.

Of the three longest-serving members of staff due to leave, Diane has chalked up 38 years’ service with the Courier, Richard more than 40 years, while Norman has served 40 years on the Times.

Editor Tim Robinson said:  “Diane and indeed all her colleagues who are leaving are all experienced and extremely valuable members of staff and I will be extremely sorry to see them go.

“It’s a very difficult situation and we’ve done our best to try to make sure that people have been able to reach these decisions themselves as far as is reasonably practicable.”

He said staff of the Hebden Bridge Times had not originally been affected by the proposals, but Norman had offered to take redundancy, thus enabling one of the Courier journalists to be redeployed.

Added Tim:  “Norman is a terrific character and he will be very difficult to replace.”

Further changes announced this week will see five editorial job losses across the Dewsbury Reporter, Mirfield Reporter, Batley News and Wakefield Express, although it is understood that the editors of those titles are unaffected.

And three managers’ roles in the advertising department at the Courier were this week placed at risk of redundancy.

Between 40-50 jobs are going across the board at the five JP dailies turning weekly on 25 May.

The other four are the Scarborough Evening News, Northampton Chronicle and Echo, Northants Evening Telegraph and Peterborough Evening Telegraph.

10 Comments

  1. Liz Carnell, Leeds

    Very sorry Dick Porter is leaving. I worked with him on the subs’ desk at the YEP for a number of years. He’s one of the nicest, most talented production editors in the business and great fun as well. xxx

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  2. Dan Depan

    Interesting that the editor should consider that closing the Hebden Bridge (and Todmorden) offices and moving all the staff to Halifax left Hebden Bridge “unaffected”.
    Good luck to all those going, even more so to those staying behind.

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  3. Curious

    Timing is everything with redundo. If you are 60-plus, walking out of the door with a half-decent wedge is a dream come true for many.
    Some people never want to retire but I’d have been doing cartwheels around the office had I lasted another few years and got within touching distance of my not-too-badly reduced pension.
    So for the senior individuals involved here, it may not be the sad departure portrayed.
    But for anyone under 60, these are scary times as editorial jobs are like hen’s teeth (unless you live in London or have B2B expertise).
    I hope the timing was right for the senior trio above – while of course lamenting the loss of jobs and the vacancies/promotions people may aspire too.

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  4. Can I quote you?

    No name check here for a former colleague of mine, Virginia Mason, the Courier’s features’ writer and columnist for 15 years. Her job is gone in the shake-up and I know she is desperately sad to be taking redundancy. Happy memories at Sheffield’s Richmond College in our NCTJ training days, Virginia! All the best

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  5. Flying Scotsman, Scotland

    The years of experience in these staff is something which have probably kept papers like the Courier and Hebden Bridge Times ticking over for so long. The inimitable Norman Masters and people like Virginia who had done so much to help promote the good of Halifax and Calderdale and the many ambitious plans to revitalise the towns means that their going will be felt far beyond King Cross Street and Crown Street.

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  6. JP hack

    I thought features were meant to be at the heart of the brave new JP newspaper world? Good luck Virginia!

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  7. Chris Thorpe, Wilsden

    I worked with both Dick Porter, Diane Crabtree and Virginia Mason for a number of years at the Halifax Courier, before I was made redundant in 2010. They are all amazingly good at what they do – and fun people to work with. It’s a shame that there are more jobs going at what was once a fantastic place to work for.
    I hope that everyone else that is left (not many) at the Courier are going to be okay in these tough times.

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  8. Martin Robinson, Leeds

    I worked with Dick Porter on the YP before he left to go to the Courier.
    A real professional and a nice guy. Best wishes for the future Dick.

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  9. hawkeye, earth

    The pay of executives is obscene. nothing they do justifies it. So many poor decisions still crippling JP and people still taking massive wages. To paraphrase Toff Cameron “not all of us are in it together”.

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  10. peter lazenby

    There’s a history of Johnston Press, a book called “Life is Local.” It was written by Edward Riley, former editor of the Halifax Courier. JP’s commitment to the “local” principle had been abandoned. The Hebden Bridge Times and Todmorden News offices are in or near the centre of their communities, ideal for local people to pop in with small ads, chat to people like my friend Norman about a news story, an event, a rumour. In fact the offices were ideal for their purpose – local contact. Now JP are shutting them and we’re losing journalists who have dedicated their lives to serving their communities. Meanwhile the JP directors stick their greedy snouts in the trough for more bonuses. Sickening.

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