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Jobs and editions axed at Northern Echo

The Northern Echo is scrapping four of its five daily editions from the end of June as it plans to reduce staff by around 15.

Around six editorial jobs will go at the Newsquest morning title through non-replacement of vacant positions and early retirement, rather than redundancies.

A further nine van drivers will be lost at the company’s printing plant, near York, where the Northern Echo and Newsquest’s York titles are printed.

The final print deadline is also to be switched from 1am back to 10.30pm but presses will be held for major breaking stories.

The move has led to fears among journalists that the Echo is in danger of losing its status as a major regional newspaper and the standard bearer for Newsquest in the north of England.

It is the latest development at Newsquest newspapers after the announcement that eight editorial jobs were to go at York – first revealed earlier today on HTFP.

One staff member, who didn’t want to be named, told HTFP: “Naturally, everybody is worried as hell. Jobs are going right across the board and we’re not replacing journalists.

“The sad thing is we’re making huge profits. The view in editorial is that it’s a huge blow.

“The Northern Echo is the standard bearer for Newsquest in the north and going down to a single edition is short-termism.”

Jenny Lennox, assistant organiser with the National Union of Journalists, said: “I don’t know whether staff intend to oppose these job cuts and but the feeling is they’re quite opposed to losing the editions.

“There’s quite a lot you can do as a result of reducing the editions such as cutting down the distribution area.”

The Northern Echo currently covers a large swathe of north-east England stretching from North Yorkshire to Tyneside.

Its five editions are: Darlington/South Durham, North Yorkshire, South-West Durham, Tees Valley and North, which covers the area north of Durham City.

At the Tom Cordner Awards last month the Echo won best news website as well as individual awards including best journalist, best health reporter and scoop of the year for the last ever interview with Tony Blair as PM.

Earlier this year editor Peter Barron welcomed a small upturn in sales as the Echo celebrated the first anniversary of the switch from broadsheet to tabloid.

Both Peter Barron and managing director David Coates were unavailable for comment.