Up to ten newsroom jobs could go in a reorganisation of Northcliffe’s Western Newspapers weeklies.
Changes being made under the Aim Higher cost reduction programme are set to “streamline” the management structure, with one editor retiring and her deputy’s post being made redundant.
Bath Chronicle editor Sam Holliday is being appointed editor-in-chief of Western Newspapers and will remain editor of the Bath Chronicle.
Between these five centres Western Newspapers publishes one daily newspaper, eight paid-for weeklies and ten free weeklies, totalling more than 432,000 copies a week.
The creation of two sub-editing pools – at Yeovil and Bath – is likely to result in the need for up to five fewer staff and some other posts being relocated locally.
Consultation with people who could be affected, in Bath, Clevedon and Wells, has begun.
In reporting, photography, features and sport, overall numbers are also expected to reduce by four or five, all to be achieved through normal staff turnover.
Under the changes Sam will also become responsible for the Somerset Standard and Somerset Guardian newspapers, with the retirement of editor Joanna Roughton in March. The deputy editor’s position, currently filled by Andy Vallis, will be made redundant, and chief sub-editor Stephanie Feldwicke has been appointed assistant editor, reporting to the editor-in-chief.
The latest news follows the announcement that Martin Heal, editor of the Yeovil-based Western Gazette, will take on responsibility for both the Yeovil and Taunton editorial teams, with Taunton Times editor Debbie Rundle reporting to him as assistant editor in Yeovil.
As part of the restructure, Phil Welch, editor of the Mid Somerset Series in Wells, will run the four titles published from Clevedon – the Weston and Worle News and the Clevedon, Nailsea, Portishead and Yatton Mercurys – supported there by an assistant editor, who has yet to be appointed. Tim Lethaby will remain assistant editor in Wells.
It is expected that the assistant editors will run their papers locally and be the public face of their title, without having the additional managerial and administrative constraints of an editor.
Georgette McCready and Julie Riegal, currently the features editor and sports editor of the Bath Chronicle, will become group features editor and group sports editor for Western Newspapers.