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Johnston Press chiefs in line for bonus boost

The two top executives with Johnston Press will be eligible for one-a-half-times their normal maximum bonus in 2014, following consultation with shareholder bodies.

Chief executive Ashley Highfield will be able to earn up to 180 per cent of salary and finance director David King up to 150 per cent.

Ashley’s salary is £400,000 while David earns £250,000.

The bonus opportunity is dependent on meeting targets on digital revenue, audience growth, advertiser and staff satisfaction, and balance sheet strength are met.

The figures were revealed in the company’s annual report which was published on Friday.

It stated: “Following prior consultation with major investors, the ABI and ISS, for 2014 only, the annual bonus opportunity for Ashley Highfield will be 180 per cent of salary and for David King will be 150 per cent of salary (i.e. one-and-a-half times the normal annual opportunity).

“The additional bonus opportunity is felt necessary to incentivise and reward management for achieving a solid platform upon which to implement the next phase of the company’s strategy.”

Johnston Press declined to comment further.

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  • April 29, 2014 at 10:18 am
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    A sentence has not been filled with more irony than with the addition of a single word.

    The sentence is ‘we’re all in it’ – and the word is ‘together’.

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  • April 29, 2014 at 10:25 am
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    Rewarded for dropping standards in editorial, cutting jobs and increasing stress in those who remain. They must be chuffed …

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  • April 29, 2014 at 10:30 am
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    And in the meantime, more hardworking JP employees are being made redundant and those that remain are overworked, overstretched, underpaid and unappreciated. Well done once again JP.

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  • April 29, 2014 at 10:31 am
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    I dread to think what “the next phase of the company’s strategy” could entail. Oh, yes. Get rid of more staff, close more offices, continue the destruction of an industry, destroy the livelihoods of hundreds of staff and their families and…er…pick up a massive bonus. Makes sense.

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  • April 29, 2014 at 10:37 am
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    This is outrageous! JP is making sweeping cuts across the board to the company; axing photographers, closing offices and reducing front line staff. How on earth can the big wigs justify these bonuses? Do they really think they deserve THAT much of a pat on the back? They are making the job harder for all the journalists who already have a lot on their plates. How about giving us a bonus once in a while!?

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  • April 29, 2014 at 11:04 am
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    A bit sickening when journos have been told that their pay rises are “performance related” yet none of us have been told what is being used to judge performance other than “specified goals for publications”.

    Enjoy your bonus Ashley. I will think of you when I work my fifth bank holiday in a row as we have not got enough staff to allow any of us to take the time off

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  • April 29, 2014 at 11:15 am
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    The bonus is dependent on meeting targets, but they will make damn sure the figures look good (though maybe staff satisfaction will not be great, or advertiser satisfaction). It is insulting to most people reading this report, I’m sure, that when earning at least £400,000 it is felt that Ashley Highfield needs to be incentivised. I was under the impression that reducing the debt of JP was a key objective. It seems that it is the ordinary staff (and those of us that lost our jobs) that are contributing to debt reduction, not those at the top. Staff reading this story will not be feeling very incentivised … those staff that retain a genuine interest in their industry, not those simply passing through as JP products reduce in quality and standing.

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  • April 29, 2014 at 11:27 am
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    When these big cats have finished destroying the media they will turn up in other lucrative posts, maybe a City bank job, the NHS, a top charity, an oil company or wherever there is real money.
    It’s all about having the right mates, and having the right mates in the right places.
    And I thought this sort of thing was only supposed to go on in Russia….

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  • April 29, 2014 at 11:33 am
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    A bonus for a guy who sold off the company’s papers in the Republic of Ireland at a loss of over £100million. The same guy who cost the BBC. £100m with a failed IT system. The guy who thinks people will take their own photos with phones for the paper and then pay to see them! The world has been turned on it’s head!!

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  • April 29, 2014 at 12:03 pm
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    I think in another life I’ll return as a JP Company Director, you get patted on the back and rewarded for destroying the quality of Journalism in the UK, it makes me sick to see this kind of information being dangled in front of some folks who are on the dole and may never work in The Craft of Journalism ever again, enjoy your pieces of Silver.

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  • April 29, 2014 at 12:25 pm
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    I’m sure he’ll donate some of it towards paper for our photocopiers, which is currently strictly rationed so we often can’t proof pages, and some freelance shifts to lift the stress level. Oh no sorry, they’re strictly rationed too.

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  • April 29, 2014 at 12:28 pm
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    Robbing the poor to pay the rich. The Sheriff of Nottingham had a better case for a bonus.

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  • April 29, 2014 at 12:51 pm
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    The problem with bonuses is they encourage short-term thinking. And that has the been the problem with local papers for some time now.

    A director cuts and saves, makes his CV looks good and improves the balance sheet for a year or two, picks up a nice bonus, moves on.

    Left behind is a crumbling shell of a company without enough resources. Quality falls, the demise quickens.

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  • April 29, 2014 at 12:59 pm
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    The delightful face of raw, unfettered capitalism.

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  • April 29, 2014 at 1:48 pm
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    Well done guys ..you’ve worked hard for that money. Don’t worry about the grunts I am sure they all wish you the best.

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  • April 29, 2014 at 2:09 pm
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    or the first time in a long time, I bought one of the JP papers the other day, one of their weeklies.
    It was shockingly bad : awkward bits of white space where the content didn’t quite fit the template, over-sized house ads in vast numbers, a joke of a classified section badged with the wrong title, bland design…..I could go on.
    It all subscribes to the idea that JP papers are being thrown together by overworked staff, hamstrung by templates and centralisation and who lack the motivation to care like they used to.
    What is most dispiriting about AH’s bonus bonanza is that none of his qualifying criteria relates to the products or to circulation performance. It is no wonder that circulation figures are so poor. Lack of senior care and focus = readers not caring much either.
    If there is not more attention given to sustaining and improving the core, money-making printed products (they are still the cash cows), there won’t be a digital business to build.
    I suppose, gutting though it is for all but 2 of the JP workforce, that the ‘boss’ needs to be incentivised to maximise performance. But if the product I bought is symptomatic of what JP newspapers have become then something is going badly wrong.

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  • April 29, 2014 at 7:50 pm
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    “The additional bonus opportunity is felt necessary to incentivise and reward management for achieving a solid platform upon which to implement the next phase of the company’s strategy.” How very Orwellian, and chilling.
    All JP employees are equal… but two are much more equal than others. Abandon hope, all ye who still stalk the echoing JP corridors.

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  • April 29, 2014 at 8:47 pm
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    I bailed out of JP a few month ago to go and work on the dark side. Reading things like this just makes me realise it was the right decision. A few months ago, this would have made me angry. Now it just washes over me, sad to say. Abandon all hope…

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  • April 29, 2014 at 9:13 pm
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    It makes me weep. Incredulous – ‘they’ care less and less about the printed product and that’s why it shows in the papers. What they seemingly fail to realise is that while they’re happily watching their papers go to rot, the complete brands (including the websites!) are dying along with them – along with staff morale, revenue, community standing, innovation, growth, creativity. . . . . . . but, hey, it seems to be keeping the company afloat and keeping Mssrs Highfield and King in financial clover, so what matter?! Well, better stock up on your bonuses while you can. Papers are hitting the streets by some sort of miracle each week as staff levels are to the bone. And web stats might by rising but there’s so little time and staff, the full potential of digital journalism can just NOT be realised. Every journalist would love to achieve more in this field of news, but, without the manpower to do so (or the willingness to work around the clock at great personal cost) are unable to do so. You can’t get blood out of a stone – or work out of no staff! You’ll be lucky if there’s any business to talk of at this rate. Sad.

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  • April 30, 2014 at 10:57 am
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    A really fed up JP, now redundant, photographer with a, “rip you off”, freelance contract. How are they getting away with all this !!

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  • April 30, 2014 at 3:05 pm
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    ‘Fed up’… why do you have to take the ‘rip off ‘ contract. Turn your hand to other more profitable avenues of photography, PR, weddings , commercial and just tell them no.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 6:47 pm
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    Unless the target for staff satisfaction is set extremely low, they won’t be getting their indefensible bonuses.

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  • May 3, 2014 at 6:55 pm
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    Desker said: ” I will think of you when I work my fifth bank holiday in a row as we have not got enough staff to allow any of us to take the time off.”
    Is it any wonder JP management think they can make so many people redundant when we have journalists willing to do do that?
    They cut staff to levels that show they don’t give a toss about coverage or quality. Work ONLY the hours you are contracted to work and don’t cover bank holidays unless you get the time off soon afterwards or until you get a bonus that’s 1.5 times your salary.

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  • May 8, 2014 at 12:59 am
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    What Ashley Highfield is getting for a bonus would keep me in a job for approx 20 years. He will not care when I’m signing on for job seekers allowance when I’m made redundant from my photography position in Northern Ireland

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