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Weekly hits newsstands a day late after computer failure

A weekly newspaper was a day late arriving in the shops after major computer problems affecting Northcliffe titles across the South East.

The Crawley News arrived at retailers 24 hours later than normal after the editorial system used to produce papers in the region went down for most of the day on Tuesday.

Richard Karn, Northcliffe’s managing director in the South East, said the failure of a data card at Virgin Media’s Essex centre had been to blame and the system had been out of action from around 8am-3.45pm on Tuesday.

But he said staff had rallied round and worked long hours to minimise the impact, meaning the Crawley News was the only title which was delayed.

Richard said most readers of the News had it delivered free to their homes, which still took place on the usual day this week, with only about 10pc of readers affected by the late arrival in the shops.

The Brentwood Gazette was the only other Northcliffe title in the region going to press on Tuesday and this arrived with the wholesalers as normal but had fewer change pages.

Richard told HTFP yesterday: “The Crawley News is a hybrid title and we only sell a relatively small number through retailers. Most customers probably won’t notice any difference.

“In the circumstances, we believe we have not done a bad job because as well as producing the titles that were on the press yesterday, we were also busy producing the titles for today. We have a number that are off stone today including the Essex Chronicle. All of these titles will go ahead as normal.

“The staff worked late last night and came in at 6am to keep us on track. Everyone has worked very hard. I think everybody in the team has really pulled together to deal with what could have been quite a significant disruption.

“The war spirit prevails in these situations and everybody tries to do their best.”

8 comments

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  • July 26, 2012 at 10:27 am
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    So, a nice little bonus in staff pay-packets for working long hours to get the newspaper out?

    No, thought not.

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  • July 26, 2012 at 12:40 pm
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    Guess it would have just been expected – no questions asked – that staff put in the extra hours to sort things. Probably with no thanks from management, and no time back in lieu?
    I remember similar scenarios, numerous times on papers I worked on, where afterwards, you’d tell friends about it and they’d say: “But think of the overtime you’ll get.” The rest of the world has little idea of the way newspaper staff are exploited under the ‘flexible at work’ approach, which originated from the idea that late stories can break and need to make it into print. Sadly, Managers now expect this free labour from staff regardless of the reason!

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  • July 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm
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    I agree with Watching from Afar. I remember being told by one chief sub that I shouldn’t ever plan to do anything on a night when I was working a late shift (which should finish at 6.30pm) after saying I definitely needed to be out by 8pm to let the babysitter go!

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  • July 26, 2012 at 4:04 pm
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    This was an external fault with Virgin media not internal as the headline reads, I’m sure all staff that worked late where thanked for their efforts even though it was totally out of the control of management.
    Everyone employed is told that in the line of their responsibilties they may have to work late and that they would get this time back in either lieu time or over-time payment.
    Staff are not ‘exploited ‘ in anyway, they can always say no, it is pride that they stayed on to help out in what must have been a difficult and stressful day.

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  • July 26, 2012 at 4:30 pm
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    One editor I worked under in the early-90s was notorious for arriving in the office at 3pm on press day, having been oddly unavailable all morning, then staying until 10-10.30pm and expecting all the reporters to do the same – even though we’d been there since 9am.
    It happened every week and none of us young reporters had the guts to ask to leave on time. It might have been things like that which turned me into a union activist when I joined a daily paper!

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  • July 27, 2012 at 9:03 am
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    Woody Woodpecker – of course staff are exploited. Absolute nonsense to say otherwise. Just check your wage packed, equate hours worked to said pay packet and see what your hourly rate is. I bet you’re not much better than minimum wage. And if that isn’t exploitation I don’t know what is. As someone said on another story, back in the 90s you’d start on 8-10k and you could claim breakfast, lunch and tea expenses. And if you did a council meeting, you’d find a way to get the time back. If something big happened, you’d graft. If it didn’t and you wanted time back, you’d get it. No one used to moan then – it was the sort of job all your mates were envious of. No envy any more

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  • July 27, 2012 at 11:37 am
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    The place I used to work the reporters were contracted from 9am to 5.30pm but on deadline day the subs worked from 10am until 8pm.

    Reporters therefore had to stay until 8pm in case the subs needed them (being on the phone was not enough you had to be in the office).

    Because of this late start the subs started two and half hours late the following day whereas the reporters got no time back despite doing 2.5 hours above their contracted hours every week.

    Despite union efforts to sync reporting hours with subbing hours it was rejected by the company who trotted out the (true) line “journalism is not a 9 to 5 job”.

    The union members pointed out that the reporters hours were set before the deadline time was changed from mid-afternoon to mid-evening.

    I have now left but the situation remains the same more than 2 years on. Expected over time every week due to a management change in the deadline.

    Journalism is not a 9 to 5 job but too many liberties are still being taken with the goodwill of staff to do their job properly.

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