26 July 2014

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Express & Star publisher to close weekly newspaper

The owners of Britain’s biggest regional daily are to axe one of its stable of weekly titles.

Midland News Association, publisher of the Express & Star, has confirmed it is to close the Hereford Journal from next week.

The free paper, which incorporated the former Ross on Wye and Leominster Journals, has a distribution of 39,377 according to the most recent ABC figures.

There will be no editorial redundancies but a number of receptionist roles are at risk as a result of plans to close front offices at other MNA-owned titles.

The closures are part of a major restructuring announced by the MNA in April that could see the loss of up to 76 jobs and the Express & Star and Shropshire Star titles printed overnight,

No mention was made of the plans to close the paper in the company’s original press announcement about the restructure.

An MNA spokesman said today: “The MNA has completed the 45 day consultation process with staff over restructuring the business.

“After 24 years of publishing the Hereford Journal, we have reluctantly taken the decision to close the title.

“The final edition, with the cover date June 11, will be published next week. No editorial redundancies have been made.

“We would like to thank all the Journal readers and advertisers for their support and wish them the very best for the future.”

The spokesman also confirmed that the reception desks at its offices in Newport, Bridgnorth, Ludlow and Oswestry will close, although the offices themselves will continue to operate.

The overall restructure will mean job losses across all departments including around 12 editorial jobs, 12 in advertising, 21 in circulation and 12 in transport.

The spokesman added:  “At present, the company is in the process of notifying those staff whose applications for voluntary redundancy have been agreed. It is also consulting staff who may be considered for compulsory redundancy.

“The focus is on looking after the MNA staff so no further details will be released at this time.

“In all departments, the company hopes that voluntary redundancies can be achieved.”

10 Comments

  1. Macca, Darlington

    Started out as a cub reporter on the HJ many years ago. Very happy memories of a rural but newsy patch, great colleagues and the occasional pint at my desk. Sad to hear this news, albeit not surprised. Best wishes to all affected.

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  2. colin osborne, Church Stretton

    The spokesman thanks readers and advertisers for their support and wishes them “the very best for the future”. No mention of staff – somehow typical of a management that should stick to what it does best: eating pork stratchings, drinking mild beer and discussing the fortunes of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

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  3. Onthefence

    I suggest they now sell off the Shropshire Star car park for housing as well as the “white elephant” group in the Channel Islands.

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  4. Laure James, Once in Hereford, now in Belfast

    Colin gave me my cub position at the Hereford Journal, a cigar-cloud of an education which I would never, ever have traded for college or university. Very sad to hear the HJ is folding although deeply proud it has lasted for this long. Good luck to all for the future.

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  5. Ian Halstead, Shropshire

    Hmm … remember the other year when the Burnley Express closed its reception desk.Passers-by, contacts, advertisers, folk who wanted to put BMDs in the paper, suddenly had no physical access, and not everyone lives in the digital universe. Cut the paper off from the outside world, saved a couple of wages, but cost them far more, not least in terms of profile, because an empty ground-floor reception area made it seem the paper had closed.

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  6. Jean Kingdon

    Circulation c.39,000? I don’t think so!

    Sad though, I did a few weeks there on holiday relief and felt that Colin was one of the best journos I’d ever worked with.

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  7. Alison G-H, Stafford

    End of an era. I moved to the Journal under the editorship of Alan Godding who was a rare breed – a real gentleman. I worked on all the editions and founded the Ross title back in the day…not an easy patch to cover, especially as I didn’t drive at the time :-) The titles provided something fresh and new in the county at its launch which was reflected by a young and vibrant team. It’s a shame that MNA didn’t seize that opportunity to establish digital media platforms that could have continued to serve the community. Is this the beginning of the end for a business in decline?

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  8. Alison G-H, Stafford

    What a great shame! I moved to the Journal under the editorship of Alan Godding – a rare breed, a real gentleman. I worked on all three titles and founded the Ross edition. Not an easy patch to cover as I didn’t even drive then :-) In the early days the HJ provided something fresh and new to communities in Herefordshire which was reflected by a vibrant young team. As time moved on, t’s a shame that MNA didn’t seize the opportunity to develop digital platforms while it still had a foothold on the community. Lost opportunity.

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  9. Breakfast

    “The focus is on looking after the MNA staff so no further details will be released at this time.”

    Once again, the management of newspapers churning out the sort of gibberish no self-respecting journalist would have accepted from a press officer back in the day.

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  10. Mike Truelove, North Herefordshire

    So sad to see a newspaper needlessly go to the wall. People want local news – but any business worth it’s salt also realises that nothing stays the same…you have to work hard at keeping yourself fresh, dynamic and relevant – did no one tell Shropshire Newspapers about tablets or the internet……

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