Journalists at Sheffield Newspapers are mobilising colleagues around the country through an e-mail campaign to rustle up support in a protest against proposed job cuts.
The stark e-mail tells how five editorial staff have been made redundant and the paper’s district offices in Barnsley and Rotherham are to close.
The senior staff made redundant have 120 years’ service between them.
Picture editor Dennis Lound, John Highfield, business editor, Richard Smith, senior production manager, Gail Robinson, Barnsley reporter and Ray Parkin, Rotherham reporter are set to leave within a fortnight.
Other developments mean there are serious concerns about journalists’ workloads.
The e-mail being circulated confirms that volunteers are being sought for redundancy.
It says: “We already have a skeleton staff in Sheffield and Doncaster and once the Barnsley and Rotherham offices close, it is likely the towns will only receive limited coverage because there are simply not enough reporters to cover the patch.
“Without offices across South Yorkshire there is no way we will be able to give the region the full coverage it deserves.
“We feel these decisions affect more than just our pay and conditions. We work long hours for relatively low pay because we are passionate about local journalism.
“We are horrified The Star’s editorial coverage is being eroded by management who seem intent on squeezing it dry.”
Staff are now asking for support and want journalists to post any supportive comments on their blog.
Supporters can back the Save Our Star campaign by signing a petition online or by e-mailing a message of support to email@example.com
The e-mail continues: “The Star is a huge part of the community, people’s lives and a lynchpin of South Yorkshire.
“For more than 100 years we have been reporting on incidents of local and national importance in South Yorkshire and promoting democracy.
“It’s unthinkable that there may not be a Star in the future but unless we act now to save it, we feel this is a real possibility.”
Staff have already unanimously backed a vote of no confidence in editor Alan Powell and senior management at Sheffield Newspapers and a ballot for industrial action is under way.
The online petition will be presented to the mangers of parent company Johnston Press in Edinburgh.
No-one from Johnston Press was available for comment.
Caroline (28/08/2008 13:45:40)
Yet another nail in the local press’ coffin