Staff were given “worst-case scenario” figures at a meeting yesterday afternoon after publisher Archant Norfolk announced that it is to combine its production and subbing departments and sports units across its daily and weekly titles.
More than 60 people are currently involved in subbing at the papers – the equivalent of 51 full-time posts – and up to 17 of these could be made redundant.
Volunteers are being sought in the first instance, and a selection process will follow if enough people don’t come forward.
Remaining staff will have to reapply for the posts available, which staff fear could lead to pay cuts.
The announcement was made at a joint editorial meeting in the boardroom at the papers’ Prospect House headquarters, after which editors faced a gruelling two-hour question and answer session.
A 30-day consultation with staff and the National Union of Journalists is now underway and it is envisaged that those taking redundancy will leave the company by May 1.
“We are consulting with the union head office and a national organiser is coming to talk to the chapel on February 10.”
The EDP and Evening News currently have their own individual subbing and production units and there is also a separate unit which looks after the production of all the weeklies, but the plan is to combine the three departments to create one big unit.
The same is planned for sport.
Archant Norfolk managing director Barry Dennis said: “Like newspaper groups all over the UK, we are looking at the way we operate our newsrooms.
“We no longer simply produce newspapers. Websites and digital media are increasing traffic every day. Broadband has opened up the Internet to the masses and is changing the way the public do things.
“Times are changing and we have to change with them. Our vision is to provide news and information services to the public in whatever form they want to receive them. This move is designed to help us achieve that objective.
“It’s a case of working smarter. Merging the various production and sports units will allow this to happen.”
The decision comes after months of in-depth analysis, carried out by two independent consultants. Some further work is to be conducted over the next two weeks before the final number of job losses is confirmed.