18 April 2014

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Johnston Press to sell weeklies to independent publisher

Two weekly newspapers owned by Johnston Press are set to be sold to an independent publisher.

Staff working for the paid-for Selby Times and free Goole Courier have been told the papers are being sold to Chronicle Publications Ltd, which already publishes newspapers in both towns.

It is understood that four journalists working for the two titles, along with advertising staff, will not be transferred to the new company but will be found alternative roles within JP.

Chronicle Publications already produces the Goole Times and the Selby Post and it is not known whether its new weeklies will continue to be published as standalone titles or be merged.

The sale of the two titles comes after Johnston Press last month announced plans to sell the Petersfield Post in Hampshire to Tindle Newspapers.

According to an internal JP announcement by South Yorkshire Newspapers managing director John Bills, which has been seen by HTFP, the sale of the weeklies is due to be completed by the end of this month.

He said: “Johnston Publishing Ltd announces its intention to sell the Selby Times, Goole Courier and associated websites to Chronicle Publications Limited.

“The date of completion for the sale is to be agreed but is expected to be by the 31 July 2013.

“Discussions with staff will commence today on an individual and collective basis. During these meetings, we will explain the process, consider the implications for individuals and address any other issues that may arise.”

The latest ABC figures, which were released in February, show that the Selby Times sold an average of 5,765 copies, down 17.4pc year-on-year.

The free Goole Courier had a circulation of 13,181, which remained unchanged from the previous year.

They were among a number of weekly titles which come under South Yorkshire Newspapers that were affected by an eight-week strike in 2011 over plans to axe 18 posts, including the role of editor at the Goole Courier, which was brought under the Selby Times.

Last year, the deputy editor of the Courier and Times was also axed in another shake-up by JP.

Neither publisher had responded to requests for a comment at the time of publication.

5 Comments

  1. Lord Monty

    Two more depressing casualties of JPs pillaging slash and burn tactics. Publishing centres starved of vital staff and resources, and left largely to find for themselves upon a shoestring as journalists, photographers and subs are culled to extinction. To this recipe for disaster, add a pinch of ludicrous cover price hikage, and a dash of rock-bottom morale among shell-shocked surviving staff. After the inevitable occurs, simply applying the ‘Gordian knot’ solution – Shut down the ruined titles, or sell ‘em all off in the bargain bin!

    One wonders what ‘alternative roles’ will be found the affected staff. “Content gatherers” has a nice ring to it, eh?

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  2. Chris Morley

    The NUJ strike two years ago was against ruinous cuts that we warned would critically undermine the titles at this JP centre. Sadly our members have been proved right and this sale is admission that the sacking of journalists does nothing but hit the long term viability of newspapers.

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  3. Ex-scribe, Cambridge

    “It is understood that four journalists working for the two titles, along with advertising staff, will not be transferred to the new company but will be found alternative roles within JP” – I heard Mumbai is lovely this time of year…

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  4. tide-timez

    So JP has rung the bell to get the cherry picking season under way. Alert to all the good people keeping this flaky company afloat: will your paper be next to go under the hammer?

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  5. Thespin

    Sold?During my time in newspaper publishing they would have closed or be given away given the level of circulation.

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