28 August 2014

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Three Midlands editors to be axed under JP plans

Regional publisher Johnston Press plans to axe three editors in a restructure at titles in the Midlands.

The company wants to merge the editorial management of six titles in Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire, so reducing the number of editors by three.

Titles affected by the move are the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, Northants Telegraph, Daventry Express, Harborough Mail, Leamington Courier and the Rugby Advertiser.

An internal company announcement, seen by HTFP, says the move is being proposed following changes to Northamptonshire Newspapers, which have seen the the Chronicle and Echo and the Kettering-based Telegraph move from daily to weekly publication.

The memo said: “Following changes to the portfolio across Northamptonshire Newspapers, the company has carried out a strategic review of editorial management and production processes. As a result of this review, it is proposed to combine the editorial management responsibility of three newspaper centres.

“It is proposed that the Group editor in Northampton will also take on the responsibility for the Daventry Express; the editor’s role at Kettering will also take responsibility for the Market Harborough Mail and the role of editor of the Leamington Spa Courier would take responsibility for the newspapers in Rugby.

“Should this proposal go ahead there would be a reduction of three roles in editorial.

“Prior to any implementation, we will consult extensively on an individual and collective basis, explaining the procedure, considering all alternatives and endeavouring to mitigate the effects of this proposal through voluntary redundancy and redeployment elsewhere in the Group.

“The consultation period is expected to be completed by 7 September 2012.”

The editors affected by the announcement are David Summers at the Chronicle and Echo, Neil Pickford at the Northants Telegraph, Matt Cornish at the Daventry Express, Brian Dodds at the Harborough Mail, Chris Lillington at the Leamington Courier and Simon Steele at the Rugby Advertiser.

Johnston Press has not responded to requests for a comment.

17 Comments

  1. sorelymissed, UK

    Proper local editors with authority interest and local knowledge are sorely missed in other JP areas where this has been tried.

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  2. I used to have a career

    Been there, done this, got the t-shirt.

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  3. ContentFacilitator

    Oh look, another “strategic review”.

    Some of these titles are pretty big – two used to be dailies until a couple of months ago.
    You can’t run a good sized paper and then run another alongside it without at least one of the titles, and probably both, suffering.
    What’s “strategic” about making titles worse?

    But then JP doesn’t give a monkeys about quality “products” or journalism. The accountants clearly don’t understand journalism – they can’t fathom why they’re paying for something which doesn’t bring in direct income.

    JP needs to repay £70m each year for the next three years, so every decision is about meeting that short term need.
    Problem is, once those three years are over, the reputation of its “brands” will be so poor and staff numbers so badly massacred there won’t be a viable business left.

    I feel sorry for the editors.
    No doubt it’s more good journalists on the scrap heap thanks to the appalling “strategic” thinking of bean counters.

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  4. Callmecynical, South east

    Couldn’t see that one coming did we? As soon as JP decided to make the Chronicle and Evening Telegraph weeklies it was obvious there there would be an editor cull. It still doesn’t make the news any more palatable though.
    For those affected, there is life after JP – it may not be in journalism though.

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  5. Subbed Out

    The biggest question in many local newspapers now is whether to jump before you are unceremoniously shoved off the cliff. I’ve always thought it better to jump – at least then you will probably survive the landing because you already have a plan worked out.

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  6. Voice of Reason

    The cull continues and once again highlights what a thankless task being an editor is these days.

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  7. Olympic Breakfast, Riverbank Arena

    @Subbed Out
    Surely if you jump you won’t even get the paltry amount offered for redundancy these days?

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  8. JP survivor

    Unfortunately I’m not surprised by this decision in the slightest. The Chron and Northants Telegraph cover a massive area, this decision will destroy their integrity in the community even further. It’ll be Peterborough, Stamford and Spalding next….

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  9. whocares?

    The only area of JP which has seen no efficiency savings is in the most senior management tier. Most of the people responsible for getting the firm into such a mess are still in place….still picking up bonuses.

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  10. Observer

    One wonders if the bean counters at JP factor in the costs of legal blunders on newspapers that don’t have a proper editor?

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  11. Jokingly Promised

    Another sad day for JP. Brian is one of those rare editors who knows his patch inside out and is passionate about giving his readers the news they want.
    How long until the remaining editorial staff are moved from Harborough to Kettering. Then it’ll be absorbed by the Northamptonshire Telegraph. And how long after that until the two bigger weeklies merge to form the Northamptonshire Chronicle &Telegraph?
    Here’s an idea, JP: How about merging all Britain’s locals into one big press release-filled rag? (Produced in India, naturally)

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  12. Ex-Insider

    More and more, editors are not regarded as working journalists. They are departmental managers, overseeing budgets and dealing with health and safety issues. Whether they are in charge of 10 staff or 90 staff makes little difference, logistically, to the top brass. JP cottoned on to this in 2008, choosing to put day-to-day control into the hands of content editors, considered much the cheaper option. The role of the weekly editor could well disappear altogether over the next five years with just a few “super editors” covering the company’s national network.

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  13. Sub Bot, London

    How long before this cull spreads to areas like Banbury, Buckingham and Aylesbury – all with their independent editors – and, geographically, not unlike the areas already targeted.

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  14. reality check

    Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. A regular claim of HTFP comments is that the fat cat JP senior management are still having a high old time while everyone else suffers.
    Tell that to the raft of MDs and other divisional bods who have been offloaded – in percentage terms, the cull of managing directors probably exceeds the cut in editorial staff. Good riddance, you may say, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’ve gone.
    The main board has seen big change, and although they may have oodles tied up in share options that’s only worth something if the share price falls off the floor. Fingers crossed.
    In an ideal world none of this would be necessary, but we all know it’s far from an ideal world in this or any other industry.
    But please show some realisation that every area of the industry is sharing the pain and some – printers, artists, planners, pre-press staff – have had a harder time of it than many editorial teams, they just haven’t got a handy forum like this on which to air their unhappiness.

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  15. Runaway Ed

    Yes Reality, lots of people are caught up in the misery. The key to success is to be one of the folk in charge of “strategic reviews” and “change management”. As long as they are very busy drawing up new projects they will stay in work until the last of the now severely damaged products, in print or online, falls into the pit.
    That’s what happens when quality control and frontline marketing are slashed to the degree whereby the products are no longer palatable to potential consumers.
    Water down journalism – the essential ingredient of a news operation – and there’s only one route, all downhill.

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  16. Jeremy Deacon, Bermuda

    No-one thinks of the end result. Papers being axed/merged, editors going or gone, staff being cut – so where is the chance to get experience further up the ladder, where and how to young journalists get a chance to join the industry. If I were entering the market now looking for a job where would I go? If I wanted promotion, where would I go.
    This really is so short sighted.

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  17. Patricia Carpenter, Leicestershire

    Well i think that all newspapers are on a slippery slope, which is very sad, and most of all people do like their local rags, Actuall I think that JP are the ones on a slippery slide, they are grabbibng at straws, and not very well

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