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Eight jobs set to go at Midlands weeklies

Eight editorial jobs are at risk of redundancy as a result of cost-cutting plans at a series of weekly newspapers in the south and west Midlands.

Managers at the Observer Standard group of 21 free titles stretching from the Costwolds to Nuneaton told employees this week that staffing levels are to be reduced by 20pc across the company.

This is likely to mean the loss of around eight editorial jobs across the group, with staff being invited to apply for voluntary redundancy.

The company’s plans were set out in a letter sent to staff on Wednesday by managing director Chris Bullivant

“I am extremely sorry to have to let you know that, following a reduction in advertising revenue due to various well-publicised problems in the world and local economies, the management team is having to look to reduce the company’s cost base,” he wrote.

“This includes a 20pc reduction in staff across the company. This means the company will have to consider making some staff members redundant. In editorial this could mean up to eight staff could potentially lose their jobs.”

Mr Bullivant told HoldtheFrontPage: “Obviously like all publishers in the current environment we’re looking at reducing our cost base so unfortunately we’ll be looking at reducing staffing levels across the group.”

Asked whether any titles may close he replied: “I’m not ruling anything out but we’ve grown to be one of the fastest growing newspaper companies in the country and if there’s any possible way I can save newspapers I will.”

One staff member said: “The announcement has obviously come as a shock, though perhaps not totally unexpected. As journalists we cover the financial problems of local companies every day, so there was no reason we were going to be immune.

“The company has had a proud record of not making people redundant, and of performing very well against tough local opposition, so this decision perhaps demonstrates just how dire the situation has become.

“The standard of journalism and output remains high, but whether that can continue on losing another eight editorial staff across our titles is another thing.”

“By my reckoning those who are unlucky will be laid off either a few days before Christmas, or just after. It’s a very worrying time all round.”

The Observer Standard group was founded by Mr Bullivant’s father, also called Chris, in 1989 and has grown over that time to become the UK’s 14th largest newspaper group.

Its titles include the Bromsgrove Standard, Coventry Observer, Kenilworth Observer, Redditch Standard and Worcester Standard.


Observer (24/11/2008 09:58:20)
More to add to the unlucky breed of former journalists. I look forward to the time that the economic upturn comes and all these so-called newspapers won’t be in a position to take advantage because the lack of good staff will mean the quality of the products will be even worse. My advice to the thousands thinking of going to college and studying journalism is think again, unless you want a life of low pay, long hours, shattered family life and constantly wondering if you’re the next for the chop.

toggle (24/11/2008 12:02:44)
“I’m not ruling anything out but we’ve grown to be one of the fastest growing newspaper companies in the country and if there’s any possible way I can save newspapers I will.”
Maybe grown too quickly??

Cynical ex-Observer journo (24/11/2008 18:54:56)
I worked for Observer Newspapers when they had very few titles. They were always cash conscious but at least Mr Bullivant’s father was prepared to help out where he could, pasting up pages to get them out on the press on time..but unfortunately, it would seem, Chris jnr, has inherited his business sense from elsewhere, not realising that the product they put through people’s doors needs journalists to produce said product. Making journo’s redundant when the papers run with minimal staffing levels to begin with will just make those left even more overworked that they already are, leading to a poorer product, less advertising revenue and so on and so forth. They never learn!

John parker (11/06/2009 12:30:39)
Very sad indeed to see any jobs cut but remember this company provided many jobs for some years and lost millions to pay for them. time to clear out the dead wood,

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