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JP staff braced for job cuts after company-wide memo

Jeremy CliffordJob cuts are planned across Johnston Press as part of a group-wide reorganisation, the company’s editor-in-chief has told staff.

All JP staff were sent a memo by Jeremy Clifford this morning outlining the rationale behind the proposals, which will see job reductions across “a number of areas”.

According to the memo, further announcements giving more specific detail of how individual publishing centres are affected will be made this afternoon.

The restructure comes after the company’s ‘Newsroom of the Future’ initiative, which sees journalists working across multiple titles within the same region, was introduced nationwide after an initial trial in September 2014.

In the memo, which has been seen by HTFP, Jeremy states the business now needs to look at “further changes to our newsrooms”.

He adds the company is reviewing the structure within “every newsroom”, and consideration is being given to whether there is the right mix of managers, writers and “those who curate and collate content from our communities”.

Jeremy continues: “I want to be open with you, too, and say that we have had to look at the cost of providing that content with a view to making savings where we can appropriate to the business needs of the company.

“As part of our workings we have looked at every opportunity to find ways of making improvements in the way we work and any efficiencies to minimise any impact on staff.”

In sections under the subheadings ‘What it might mean’ and ‘What could the impact be?’, he adds: “We have reorganised some of our former publishing units, to better reflect the geography of our brands, as (chief executive) Ashley Highfield outlined at the end of 2015.

“We expect the review of our newsroom structures will lead to a reorganisation for some of our teams as well. In some cases that will mean a reduction in team sizes.

“We have identified a number of areas where job reductions will come from and how that may affect different teams directly. Later today a number of announcements will be made about some of those proposals.

“These will set out our intention but it will take some time to work out the detail of those changes and how we want our organisations to operate in future.”

Jeremy, who was appointed to his new group-wide role in December as part of a management restructure, goes on to say the plans will be looked at over the next month, with the possibility of working groups being set up to look at workflows, technology requirements and structures.

He concludes: “I know, and appreciate, that this is not news you want to hear, especially after such a challenging year. The rate and pace of change is unsettling and sometimes it feels pretty relentless. I wanted to set out the context of why we are taking these actions.

“We will keep talking to you, and more importantly we’ll keep listening. Your feedback is important to the future of the company, and we value it.

“Those centres directly impacted will be informed later today, but every editorial director will be giving more information to their teams about the proposals.”

Johnston Press has declined to comment further on the plans.

48 comments

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  • January 8, 2016 at 11:22 am
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    This is the first working week of the new year and it already feels like a chainsaw massacre. Presumably, JP staff are now sweating on this afternoon’s detailed announcements. Good luck to one and all – but this is the way 2016 is going to go, I’m afraid, for so many of us.

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  • January 8, 2016 at 11:25 am
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    Someone should build a PR version of the Statue of Liberty for anyone left in this profession now, she can carry an iPad and be holding aloft a Costa Coffee cup.

    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to not be in constant fear of your job,
    The wretched refuse of your newsroom carrion.
    Send these, the skint, and generally fed up, to me:
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

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  • January 8, 2016 at 11:42 am
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    lousy poetry I know but you get the drift of newspapers in (badly) managed decline.

    Leaving JP, once felt so sad.
    Some of the best times I ever had,
    Now I can feel nothing but glad,
    But those left behind have got it bad

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  • January 8, 2016 at 11:46 am
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    Does JP actually have enough remaining staff to cope with another cull? Genuinely feel for the folks still with that company and I’m glad I’m out of it. There ARE other compatible careers out there with far more rewarding non-newspaper firms, trust me!

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  • January 8, 2016 at 12:15 pm
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    It’s now 12:10, I’m sitting at my desk, and it feels like my stomach is tied up in knots. It’s very difficult to concentrate on my work, and I’m forced to read everything in front of me several times, because my mind simply refuses to take it in.

    Why did the powers that be see fit to present the news in this format? An email that warns of impending doom, and the beginning of a long anxious wait? Why not just danged-well tell us? If there’s to be an announcement, why not just announce it and end the agony, one way or another?

    Frankly, this is a terrible way to treat your employees.

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  • January 8, 2016 at 12:20 pm
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    You have to hand it to ‘Jez’ less than a month into his new role and he’s sorted a company wide reorganisation and fitted in christmas

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  • January 8, 2016 at 12:37 pm
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    Psychopath traits, like all the others on the sociopath / narcissist spectrum.
    THEY can only do this because they have no empathy, that’s why companies like JP and many many others hire people like this ….
    THEY DO NOT CARE, they don’t care because they are wired differently to the rest of us
    GLAD I bailed out of JP years ago, what a terrible, terrible company to work for, dog bless all of you still hanging in there

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  • January 8, 2016 at 12:47 pm
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    I’ve seen the full email – the Editorial Board has been working on this one…the same Editorial Board that awarded Highfield with more than £1 million in bonuses, despite slashing staff and the company being in hundreds of millions of pounds worth of debt.

    I’m seething

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  • January 8, 2016 at 1:16 pm
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    As I said yesterday , one week in and the theme of restructured job cuts cost savings and consultation processes has begun

    This will be the sorry trend throughout this year with almost no regional press group failing to announce reshuffles, revenue losses and resultant job losses
    But who will be the first to announce restructures on the commercial departments I wonder? Anyone?
    Certainly with an albatross like Mustard tv at Archant in Norwich there’s a pile of cost savings to be made by pulling the plug on that dismal offering, or will they crash in leaving embarrassment and further hugs revenue losses in their wake while editorial staff look over their shoulders got the next round of ‘ restructures’ while the ad teams look on

    This JP announcement is perfectly timed coming when staff are just back after Christmas and announced on a Friday late morning nicely set up to end the week with , have a good stress free weekend everyone
    I’m sure AH and his cronies will!
    Worrying times

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  • January 8, 2016 at 1:21 pm
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    Company wide? I never received this, and am currently sitting at my desk in a JP office…

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  • January 8, 2016 at 1:23 pm
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    Sadly Lord Monty that’s the way of the world with most of the spineless individuals running the regional press these days who are happy to carve up teams individuals and livelihoods as long as it helps look good on paper and keeps the shareholders happy.

    Nothing like a soulless worrying email dropping in your inbox on a Friday is there, if it helps most of us posting on here have been there, done that and come out the other side with better jobs, less stress and better quality of life since leaning local press. It’s also one of the reasons why so many competitor publications have sprung up and are thriving, staffed in most cases by ex employees out to prove a point

    Chin up sir and sometimes the grass really is greener and looking back you’ll cons to realise losing good people will ultimately be their downfall
    All good wishes to you

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  • January 8, 2016 at 1:47 pm
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    What a nightmare for those with homes, mortgages and families to pay for. The pressure among teams loyal to each other was always bad, now it seems the whole thing is disintigrating.

    The massive casualty that no one seems to address is the terrible loss of local democracy. It is a dangerous situation. And as someone above mentioned, there is no empathy and no real care for the consequences to communities who are the only ones who can save the company now!

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  • January 8, 2016 at 2:04 pm
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    To be fair, there’s no nice way of doing this. When I was made redundant (along with the rest of my department) we had a four-minute warning – an email telling us to meet in the boardroom in four minutes. It was obvious what was going to happen. I pretended I had been in the loo when the email dropped and hadn’t seen it, turning up late for the meeting so the editorial director had to start reading the prepared statement all over again.

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  • January 8, 2016 at 2:23 pm
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    “I want to set out the context” which is that the debt is worth more than the company, its assets and future earnings. The immediate choices appear to be (a)withering on the vine or (b) death by a thousand cuts.
    There might be more value to be found in breaking up the titles and selling them into local ownership but maintaining the print, IT and production contracts so entry cost for independent publishers is reasonable – regional newspapers as a franchise?

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  • January 8, 2016 at 2:27 pm
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    “Job cuts are planned across Johnston Press as part of a group-wide reorganisation”

    What a reorganisation of the recent reorganisation ?

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  • January 8, 2016 at 2:38 pm
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    Desperately sad for those left working, will this see the end of small circulation weeklies…indeed is the Doncaster Star still going?

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  • January 8, 2016 at 2:40 pm
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    What I would like to know is if the company is still going through another round of cutbacks and redundancies why is the Chief Exec still getting paid a nice bonus?

    At present there should be no bonus’s paid. If there are bonus’s being paid out (which there are) then what are the performance targets? Clearly made up to reach the said bonus, as looking at the share price this company is now the lowest it has ever been in history (taking into account rights issue etc).

    An absolutely dreadful performance, that shareholders and institutional investors should be voting and getting this board kicked off.

    It is plain to see that the Chief Exec came into the company with a big load of hype and a strategy that is clearly not working. He bought a pile of shares, got his nice pay packet, got his nice performance related bonus, got his share options etc – what does he do? He sells approximately £250k of shares later last year – hardly a vote of confidence in his company.

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  • January 8, 2016 at 3:20 pm
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    Somebody needs to buy this wreck of a business, or at least the successful parts of it, and inject some investment before we are all out of a job! Time to pick up that company revolver, and do the decent thing, Mr Highfield!

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  • January 8, 2016 at 3:57 pm
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    Doesn’t it make you wonder why so many of us are prepared to work unpaid overtime when this is the ultimate reward?

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  • January 8, 2016 at 4:11 pm
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    Mark my words some once highly profitable and respected JP papers will bite the dust or become slip pages on a bland regional paper.Damn it, I have given someone an idea!
    The future of the newsroom of the future is all behind it, sadly.
    If you possibly can, get out boys and girls. There really is life after JP, and I found it.

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  • January 8, 2016 at 4:17 pm
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    Does Mr Highfield seem to anyone to be the kind to go down with the ship? First in the lifeboat before the women and the kids (from the newsroom) with a sackful of notes me thinks.
    Do the decent thing skipper.

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  • January 8, 2016 at 4:19 pm
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    Corporal Clegg, Ashley Highfield has got to hang on until April – he’s on the list of top speakers at a Westminster Media Keynote conference and Ashley’s specialist subject is: The future of local content in the wider media landscape.

    He’ll be able to tell them whether there is a future…

    (Policy conference on the future of the UK local media sector – with BBC, Johnston Press, Google, Telegraph Media Group and Press Association: Westminster Media Forum, Morning, Thursday, 21st April 2016)

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  • January 8, 2016 at 4:28 pm
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    carts: good point. I argued the franchise idea just before Christmas on another story. I think it could pay but the bloated hierarchies of obscenely rewarded corporate suits, who have no definable talents, must be consigned to history. What revenue is left in local news could still, I think, support journalists and a bare-boned admin establishment, but nowt else. Worth a go.

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  • January 8, 2016 at 5:11 pm
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    It’s now 17:10, is there any update on this story, or are those affected expected to stew over the weekend?

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  • January 8, 2016 at 5:33 pm
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    We’ve had our local briefing and the news is not good. Having massacred subs and photographers in recent times, it’s now the turn of writers and newsdesk/managers to be put up against the wall. Significantly at no point today was any real concern expressed by the hierarchy about the impact this would have on our titles. Goodbye local newspapers, it’s been good to know you.

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  • January 8, 2016 at 5:38 pm
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    I can’t help wondering if Sir Ray Tindle (one of JP’s biggest shareholders) is waiting in the wings to rescue some of the titles.

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  • January 8, 2016 at 5:41 pm
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    You reap what you sow. You don’t hit ad targets that were wildly bullish to the city, then decrease the number of journos and pages and then what have you got? Fewer platforms and less people to write, therefore fewer places to sell ads.
    The firm abandoned local advertisers months ago in a bid to seal up year-long deals with national clients. Staff were briefed so.
    Now no one seems to want to advertise and it’s a big surprise.
    Someone at the top has to answer for this bufoonery.

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  • January 8, 2016 at 5:49 pm
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    I believe I said in a previous post that I would have liked to wish Mr Clifford well in his new, elevated role – but couldn’t. Here’s why. JP shilling leaves grubby stains.

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  • January 8, 2016 at 6:21 pm
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    Although comments here are from the heart, it is disappointing to see so much cliche and, sorry to say, ignorance about the way these things work.
    The editorial board doesn’t award bonuses to anybody. It’s an editorial board, full of the yes people of which Jeremy Clifford is now the chief barker. The main board, and the remuneration committee, does all that. And doing things to please shareholders? Do me a favour. The share price is a tenth of what some of the biggest shareholders paid. It’s gone past pleasing them mate! This axe wielding has been carried out because the company cannot make its strategy work because no-one wants to buy the rubbish it is producing, let alone advertise in it.

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  • January 8, 2016 at 7:06 pm
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    In just amazed that so many decent journalists and knowledgeable sales staff still remain working in the regional press which lets face it have no future, why?
    I can only think they don’t have the confidence in their abilities to jump ship and go work elsewhere or they fear not getting another job so put up with all the crap and mind games that the suits drop on them from on high.
    Believe me there’s a great life and a much less stressful life outside of the dying ‘big boys’ of regional press and one where it’s not all about money but as much about quality of life and working on publications people actually like, where there’s a market to serve and fur employees who know local community publishing and who are a pleasure to work for , so make a stand,take a leap of faith and move on from this kind of car crash way to treat people and run a business
    Where there’s no future there’s panic and chaos and today’s announcement is just another example of this and should be a rallying cry to leave on your own terms with your heads held high and treat these people with the contempt they deserve

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  • January 8, 2016 at 7:44 pm
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    I shouldn’t be, but I am stunned at even more sad news from JP for the good honest “shop floor” workers ( having worked for them I don’t give a damn about its inept toadying managers). It seems to be the death knell for papers that have existed since the 1800s in some cases.
    The only hope is some of the small papers are somehow revived as small indies. Like others I believe this might work for a really stripped down team with a proper editor and ad manager and no group editors in sight.

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  • January 8, 2016 at 10:27 pm
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    This isnt surprising given the skill AH has with newspapers. From day one he has neglected and sidelined the print side of the business. He had tried to force readers from print to digital by running papersinto the ground with crappy templates, office closures , price rises and office closures. However its quite clear that DIGITAL ISNT WORKING. advertisers dont like it snd the new IOS 9 is blocking ads. Give it up Ashley. Sell the papers off to smaller companies who want to make a success of print. Go now ashley b4 it all falls apart on you!

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  • January 8, 2016 at 11:25 pm
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    The more they cut, the poorer the product. The poor the product, the fewer are sold. The fewer sold, advertising falls… Such true geniuses running JP. NOT TO WORRY, THE END IS NIGH!!

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  • January 8, 2016 at 11:30 pm
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    The trouble is, the spiral of decline will continue.
    Jobcuts means standards drop and sales fall further creating a ‘need’ for further cuts.
    The JP paper in my patch contains just the page lead as couple plus a handful of other tales from its actual circulation area.
    Yesterday’s page lead was a rewrite of a court story seen in that day’s JP regional daily, which had been on tv the day before.
    After 40 odd years of buying my local JP weekly, my 70-something parents look like they will finally stop buying the weekly paper as there’s ‘nowt in it.’ Yet, they are the ABC1 readers advertisers love.
    It is a crying shame as I remember the local JP papers were great in the past. The Yorkshire Evening Post was a treasure in the 90s compared to the trash it is today. Yesterday’s effort, which appears in the village shop with the morning papers, was quite dire.
    The Yorkshire Post does its best but is only a good read on a Saturday.
    I was working for JP in the East Midlands until last year and it was heartening to still see some great solid little papers, stuffed with local news and still making profit.
    Then, Newsroom of the Future came along and wrecked it for everybody, staff and readers alike.
    I found sanctuary in Local World but the axe is being wielded there too now, thanks to Trinity Mirror, and my former LW paper is now also suffering, at least judging by what I see online.
    We do need to look at alternative models.
    The big corporates are losing their local links and readers.
    Should the Monopolies Commission seek to break up the regional barons for the health of local democracy.
    Smaller family owned operators, closer to their communities, seem to be faring better.
    Oh,and the BBC’s role should be weakened at local level to give the local media room to grow.

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  • January 9, 2016 at 7:39 am
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    Ex JP Hack and Jeff Jones. I’m sure people who are spending the weekend worrying about their jobs are relieved that this news has inspired you to turn to sarcastic poetry. Our thoughts should be with them, not using their situation to mock.

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  • January 9, 2016 at 9:14 am
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    Johnston Press and Trinity Mirror still trying to out-do one another.

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  • January 9, 2016 at 9:28 am
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    It will all become apparent this year. JP chainsawing staff randomly and Newsquest doing the same in a slightly more subtle manner. It all points to a merger……

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  • January 9, 2016 at 10:44 am
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    Idle Rich, it just shows you aren’t part of any community if you believe no one wants to read the ‘rubbish’ produced in local newspapers.

    Thousands and thousands read the ‘rubbish’ and local democracy is served by the trained journalists who demand accountability from the authorities who run our communities.

    Don’t wish it all gone.

    The death by a thousand cuts is a desperate, panic stricken attempt to manage financial promises made by those at the top who don’t understand news even though they are successful at ‘business’ and were way behind the curve with digital, to shareholders.

    I think, if JP has any belief in the reason for local newspapers, it should do the decent thing and sell off the titles to allow them to continue to provide the profitable public service they’re good at.

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  • January 9, 2016 at 10:45 am
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    Taking up the last point about alternatives… after leaving JP I set up what the Portsmouth News has referred to as “the hyperlocal online newspaper, Gosport Globe” in an area that no longer had its own weekly. A year later, we’re still putting on circulation while that of our Peterborough printed, Scottish owned daily ‘rival’ continues to decline. Anyone with production and reporting experience could do the same and, with better editorial and advertising staffing (we’re still planning to create jobs), possibly even better. If you want to see how we did it, Google http://www.gosportglobe.uk for back issues or http://www.gosportglobe.uk/gg.php?y=2016&e=2 for this week’s edition. And if you want any information about the publishing system, by all means email me: editorial@gosportglobe.uk. There is always a way out and going it alone could provide it!

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  • January 9, 2016 at 6:51 pm
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    Who said the editorial board awarded bonus’s? Not me. The company is a listed company on the stock market – it is there to please shareholders and institutionals whether or not you like it or not. If the company wasn’t listed and was a non profit organisation, than no doubt we would not be talking about it.

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  • January 10, 2016 at 4:57 pm
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    It’s all take and no give with this truly miserable company. They used to invite their employees to ‘Have Yor Say’ by email! What a sick joke!!

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  • January 10, 2016 at 7:55 pm
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    to Penman Pat …

    perhaps you get some solace from dressing up your own career retreat as some shining pathway for other, but the idea that the regional press is anything other than important is a lie.

    the challenge has never been greater, but nor has the opportunity. that’s why so many decent journalists and sales staff remain – and why the industry still attracts interest and talent at all levels.

    Some of us consider that a fight worth fighting for. To pour scorn on that is contemptible. The only place we can say with certainty has no future is whatever terminal you occupy, Pat. Because you, clearly, gave up long ago.

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  • January 11, 2016 at 10:06 am
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    @robin young

    FYI, Portsmouth News is printed in Hilsea, Portsmouth.

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  • January 11, 2016 at 10:14 am
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    Story not updated but here is what the announcement was.

    Last year the Yorkshire PU was gutted of journalists and managers.

    This will now happen across the rest of the business. Two pre-press sites will close, leaving just one for the whole of JP.

    22 “managers” will be axed on top of other redundancies being planned across all the PUs.

    The announcement said managers are classed as news/copy editors and above.

    There was also vague references to “looking at lower performing titles” which suggests some papers will go also.

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  • January 12, 2016 at 10:01 pm
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    As a Scot living in the South, I wanted to order The Scotsman for months in advance of the referendum on Scottish Independence. No newsagent could order it as they do not send it to newsagents in England. We had to have the paper sent to us by post, which we did for almost a year up to the decision. I don’t know how many Scots there are living outside Scotland who would like to be able to order the Scotsman locally. We had no vote in the referendum and will have no vote in any future referendum. I wonder how many other Scots feel this is a slap in the face!

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  • January 14, 2016 at 4:53 pm
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    As I said on the other JP cuts story, JP is totally screwed. Share prices have been bumping along the bottom at circa 40p and almost 90,000 shares were sold today. Another big price fall is on the way.

    The more editorial job cuts that are made, the more the product is damaged. There is no fat left to trim.

    The top and bottom of it is the people running this zombie company haven’t a clue. The likes of Ashley and his fellow members of the top table will walk away from this car crash with pockets bulging and smiles on their faces. Inevitably they will walk into other senior positions.

    Sadly, the JP journalists will walk away with buttons and little prospect of decent jobs.

    Take a bow Johnston Press execs, your incompetence beggars belief.

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