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.