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Another JP title to become officeless paper

The Skegness Standard has become the latest Johnston Press title to embrace the “officeless paper” trend, prompting criticism from local councillors.

A story in the current edition of the Standard announced that its offices in the town’s Hildreds Centre were now closed.

The paper will now hold weekly ‘reporter surgeries’ at the town’s Embassy Theatre, the first of which took takes place on Friday.

The rest of the time, reporters will be “out and about” in the community or working from home with no fixed office base.

Editor Stephen Stray said: “We really want to be at the heart of the community and our reporting team will now be out and about much more – getting to events and reporting on your stories.”

“We are delighted to be holding regular ‘reporter surgeries’ at the Embassy and would like to thank them for allowing us space in there to meet readers.”

However East Lindsey District councillor Steve O’Dare said the office’s closure would be “bad news for Skegness.”

He said:  “It’s understandable but I think it’s going to be detrimental to Skegness. A lot of people like to pop into the office.”

Council leader Doreen Stephenson said: “While it is always a shame when businesses relocate away from our town centres, we understand that in the current economic climate sometimes they have to look at different ways of working.

“We support the Standard, as we would any of our local businesses, and have accepted a request for a reporter to use a desk at the Embassy Theatre one day a week to help them maintain a local presence.”

Other JP titles which have scrapped their offices in recent months include the Hemel Hempstead Gazette and the Harborough Mail.

Fellow regional publisher Trinity Mirror is also experimenting with homeworking by closing the offices of the Crewe Chronicle.

13 comments

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  • March 31, 2014 at 9:34 am
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    Readers going into a theatre instead of the paper’s office will think their local title is a bit ‘mickey-mouse’. This is not a trend to be embraced, but be embarrassed about.

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  • March 31, 2014 at 10:54 am
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    I hope there’s room for readers to speak in private to reporters at the Embassy Theatre if they need to.
    In so many banks and building societies customers queue up to get served and everyone can listen in on your financial affairs while they are waiting.
    Of course, banks regard customers as being there to be mugged. I suppose the media corporations will have the same idea regarding readers.

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  • March 31, 2014 at 10:55 am
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    Offices, for many, are homes-away-from-homes where people create and enjoy a social environment, adopt a work ‘personality’, share ideas and opinions, and make friends, even if those friendships prove transient in the long run. Just getting out of the house is a tonic for the majority. Take that away and you need to be a mentally tough and resilient bunny indeed. I once had to write a lengthy banking report (not newspaper work), which meant incarceration for four months in a quiet suburban house (because our sort mainly live amongst others who also go out to work), and by the end I’d had more than enough of my own company. Office-less operations are only being implemented because our industry is running out of cash – you don’t hear of civil servants or insurance workers, for example, having to do it. It will be hard to entice new recruits to such an isolating and isolated ‘workplace’.

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  • March 31, 2014 at 11:36 am
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    Using the Embassy Theatre for drop-in sessions could be the thin end of the wedge for editorial independence in this country.

    What if, someone like controversial comedian Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown brought his show to the popular theatre and his fruity material and non-stop swearing upset a Skegness big-wig?

    The Standard’s well-deserved impartiality could be tested given that they are de facto also ‘appearing’ at the Embassy.

    I don’t think JP has thought this one through.

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  • March 31, 2014 at 12:41 pm
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    I have been mainly working from home since my office closed. It’s lonely, depressing and I feel out of touch with what’s happening in my community. It’s just another step into oblivion for local newspapers.

    I think it’s time JP sold off some of its local titles to people who really want to run them, who care about their communities and want to invest in real journalism.

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  • March 31, 2014 at 4:00 pm
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    I know that reporters on a Trinity paper (which I shall not name) which had no office base would get together and go to each others houses to simulate a work environment (and to keep their sanity).

    Someone else let slip about this and their boss stopped it as they would “distract each other” they believed and get less done. They were also given a pretty stern, and condescending, dressing down.

    Sometimes our industry does itself no favours.

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  • March 31, 2014 at 4:58 pm
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    Whenever I hear senior managers blathering on about how offices are unnecessary I think of one of those Christmas special episodes of The Office. Specifically the scene where David Brent tries (and fails) to prove that he can be “in the office” in his car.

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  • April 1, 2014 at 9:22 am
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    JP journo provides a vivid example of the predicament in which many unwilling ‘home-workers’ find themselves, outlined in my earlier post. Depression and anxiety hover over these comments and if JPJ wants to keep in touch via this website then feel free (part of what it’s here for I’d hope). It may pay you to think seriously about your career, JPJ, and remember that journalists’ skills are eminently transferable to other fields, often better paid and almost always office-based. Your call.

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  • April 1, 2014 at 11:18 am
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    Unhappy JP staff know that sooner or later they will be made redundant (though not in sales). To leave a job they once enjoyed to leap into the unknown is daunting, but to also weigh that against a payout must be keeping some there – be it in the office or at home. Long serving staff, in particular, are now practically able to put a price on their departure and are awaiting the next round of VR.

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  • April 1, 2014 at 12:39 pm
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    ‘Daunting’ is not synonymous with ‘daunted’, JPJ, but your observations put the finger on why most of us live and work the way we do – in short, we’re not Rupert Murdochs or Marjorie Scardinos – and, if we were, we wouldn’t be here debating these matters. What price a payout? Sanity?

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  • April 2, 2014 at 12:13 am
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    Johnston Press are criminally insane! Their crazy schemes are driving good papers into the ground. Their recklessness is astounding. JP cannot last much longer! Hopefully!

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