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Newsquest shake-up sparks jobs scramble

Nineteen full-time staff and one part-timer will compete for nine new positions in a shake-up of Newsquest’s Lancashire and Cumbria operations.

HoldtheFrontPage has learned that 11 editorial jobs and one part-time post are under threat at the ‘Citizen’ titles in Blackpool, Preston, Chorley and Lancaster.

A memo from Lancashire Telegraph editor Kevin Young, seen by HTFP, lists the jobs at risk as: Citizen series editor, deputy editor, sub-editor, two photographers, news editor, two senior reporters, three trainees and a part-time sub-editor.

These are in addition to eight jobs under threat at Kendal-based weekly the Westmorland Gazette.

These roles are assistant editor (production), senior reporter (features), trainee reporter, business editor, designer/sub editor, sports editor, sports reporter and web editor.

Editorial production of the Westmorland Gazette, South Lakes Citizen and associated titles will be centralised in Blackburn.

These steps are part of a wider editorial shake-up and restructure by Newsquest North West which threatens the future of eleven newspapers across its region, including three of the four Citizen titles.

In his memo, Mr Young invites staff they can apply for any of nine new positions under the restructure, most of them predominantly in Blackburn.

The new jobs are:

  • Deputy editor (Westmorland Gazette, based in Blackburn and Kendal)
  • Features writer/sub-editor (working for all titles, based in Blackburn)
  • Two sub-editors (working for all titles, based in Blackburn)
  • Sports and news reporter (Westmorland Gazette, based in Kendal)
  • Sports editor (based in Blackburn and Kendal)
  • Web editor, Westmorland Gazette (based in Blackburn)
  • Assistant chief sub-editor (working for all titles, based in Blackburn)
  • Trainee reporter (working for Chorley Citizen, based in Blackburn.)
  • The memo said: “It is my intention to consider any requests for voluntary redundancy but I do reserve the right to refuse.

    “Where selection is needed, skills analysis assessments will take place…..and will be used as the selection criteria for redundancy if the proposal goes ahead, if I fail to get sufficient voluntary redundancy requests.”

    No-one from Newsquest North West was available for further comment.


    Mr_Osato (12/12/2008 09:19:34)
    An interesting question to ask would be – who is actually running the Westmorland Gazette now Mike Glover’s gone? Aonce fine newspaper, founded by Wordsworth, now producted 50 miles down the road… disgraceful

    Lin (12/12/2008 12:07:37)
    Stop revelling in misery. Scramble. Shambe on you

    Mr Grammarian (12/12/2008 12:13:30)
    Learn to spell “shame” Lin. Shame on you.

    eddie sha (12/12/2008 13:38:58)
    Shamble on all of you

    John (12/12/2008 14:16:59)
    Shame on the world and on Roy Keane

    Herr Smit (12/12/2008 15:13:03)
    Yet another great newspaper (Lancashire Telegraph)being crucified by money grabbing corporates.

    Spectator (12/12/2008 15:45:08)
    Is this a case of the editor at the LT making everyone ‘slug’ it out for job?

    Nick Rudd (12/12/2008 15:46:10)
    Besides the obvious folly of The Westmoreland Gazette being produced from Blackburn, I note the vacancy for ‘Trainee reporter, Chorley Guardian, based in Blackburn’. Doesn’t that say it all about the Newsquest approach to journalism? When I was starting out in this profession, 30 years ago, the training would have been done on the streets of Chorley; now it’s done from an office half an hour away by car (or an hour by bus). When will they finally realise that the reason sales figures are constantly going down is because papers produced in other towns by journalists with no local knowledge are a complete turn-off to the reader. The arrogance of Newsquest and other corporate owners in defiance of this basic concept appears to know no bounds and this march to complete centralisation will only end when all the local papers have gone to the wall. How sad.

    Nick Rudd (12/12/2008 15:56:25)
    By the way, in answer to Herr Smit, the Lancashire (Evening) Telegraph was never, in my opinion, a ‘great’ newspaper, like the Manchester Evening News or Liverpool Echo. Even when it was part of Thomson Regional Newspapers, it was the Newcastle Evening Chronicle which was the flagship of that group. For many years, the L(E)T was consistently very good, serving its community well, and it was the quality its journalists, and their impeccable local knowledge, that made it so. You don’t need to listen too hard these days to hear the sound of them turning in their graves.

    Hilary Jones (12/12/2008 18:50:01)
    Nick Rudd is quite right, except in one field. Have you noticed – reporters aren’t reporters any more, they’re “content gatherers”? This implies, of course, getting the words, any old words, to fill the gaps between the ads. Once upon a time we poured scorn on the News Shopper-type freesheets for that. Now they’re all at it. And you can “gather content” from absolutely anywhere – mostly the PR messages in your email inbox. Local? Who cares? It’s not a local newspaper any more, its a “product” of a “brand”.

    honey28 (12/12/2008 18:50:09)
    I’m surprised HTFP hasn’t followed up the fact that the editor/ publisher of the Westmorland Gazette has also been axed as part of all this.

    Metman (13/12/2008 13:16:50)
    Once great paper? Please. Having worked at the L(E)T for my sins I can confirm it is an absolute shower. Having worked in the industry both in London and the regions I have never had the misfortune to find myself anywhere so depressed. Not one member of staff while I was working there had a single good thing to say about it and they were leaving in their droves. No wonder the paper is like a Beano with low pagination and poor design, anyone worth their salt would have got out of there by now. In fact anyone with any sense will have left local journalism!

    Golam Murtaza (13/12/2008 13:35:30)
    Local journalism was once considered a good stepping stone for young reporters wanting to get into national and international media. How are things going to work now exactly? The ‘stepping stone’ is sinking into the mire…

    shafted (13/12/2008 16:25:28)
    RE: “In his memo, Mr Young invites staff they can apply for any of nine new positions under the restructure” above. Kevin Young’s memo doesn’t invite affected staff to apply for the new positions but does state staff can apply for voluntary redundancy but he does “reserve the right to refuse”. The Westmorland Gazette web editor, eg, might not get redundancy even if the person wanted it. It will then be up to the NUJ to fight for constructive dismissal as the travel to work distance is surely unreasonable.

    westpenninewoman (13/12/2008 16:51:26)
    Couldn’t have happened to a nicer newspaper group (I am being sarcastic by the way!)

    reader (13/12/2008 20:31:36)
    Bet we never read about these job loses in the Lancashire Telegraph, I doubt they’ll even announce the collapse of its sister Citizen newspapers, yet we’ll read about Woolies and the like. Readers get what the editor wants them to read not what is newsworthy! Call it a free press!

    foxyloxy (13/12/2008 22:53:20)
    shame on the newsquest shareholders squeezing every bit of advertising money they can out of what was once a really good paper. Centralisation in blackburn of the journalists is crazy but don’t forget that 2 years agon, again unreported, the production team were in a similar position – go to Blackburn or apply for voluntary redundancy which we might not give you. this is the death nell of the westmorland Gazette as we knew it, but personally having worked there for 6 years i couldn’t give a monkies. Poor web editor – who looked at anyway (14/12/2008 10:37:13)
    With all these redunadancies in Newsquest it is going to be like a Blackburn sweatshop for those left behi
    nd as everyone will be working the usual long hours and more (with no extra pay, just time back if you can grab a minute!) and for what – the L(E)T has never been a fantastic paper, but then it has no direct rival on its patch. Bit like giving yourself a prize for winning a one man race! What a joke – as are the management of this depressing newspaper.

    John (14/12/2008 11:13:46)
    I just despair – for someone like me who is 24 and has known nothing but local journalism I am now out of work. I wouldn’t have a clue what to do if I was to start a new career but it’s looking the only sensible option. Sad. I hope those who lose their jobs at Blackburn a brighter future.

    Cath (14/12/2008 11:27:09)
    John, I am much older than you and facing the same fate after more years than I care to remember. It is very sad and scary, I know, but you are still young enough to change direction and think of all the communications/writing/interviewing skills that you have gained. Contact your local college for free careers advice and speak to the local council who usually offer a free redundancy advice service. Things happen for a reason – fate has pulled the rug out fro under us, but 2009 will be bigger and better, just have faith in yourself and soldier on. Just one bit of advice – forget print journalism as a career or this will happen to you again, I’ve been in this boat twice in my career and wished I’d switched years ago. Good luck!!

    Kevin (14/12/2008 11:47:15)
    John, wake up, you being unemployed after probably spending a fortune on putting yourself through a tough NCTJ course that has much higher standards of journalism than that you have probably ever used during your short career, is of absolutely no significance to the powers that be – just as long the poor Gannett shareholders get enough money. That’s what it’s all about, don’t take it persoanally. Good luck.

    ex-reporter (14/12/2008 12:33:32)
    As a former L(E)T journalist turned PR officer covering a large part of Chorley I suspect my press releases and others are going to fill the pages of the new Chorley Citizen. Better get my camera ready too as I understand the Chorley photographer has already been axed. My clients will be delighted by the almost certain publicity but it’s hardly journalism. Thank goodness I left when I did.

    John (14/12/2008 19:04:45)
    You’re absolutely right, thanks. I mean, I’ve done two years on a London weekly, only raising my traineeship 13k wage once I passed my seniors and even then 19.5k for a senior in London was still tough to live on. I need to do something else. New year new hope.

    Ex-Questie (thank God!) (15/12/2008 04:55:08)
    As an ex-Newsquest reporter I can only marvel at the new levels of low the management/shareholders of this greedy, grabbing, demoralising company can stoop.
    To any employee affected by this latest round of penny-pinching, bum-covering pile of dung please note… there is life after Newsquest, scrape them off and put your no doubt considerable media/PR skills to use in a better paid, more deserving environment.

    j elliott (15/12/2008 10:18:29)
    Well, in classic capitalist (not too mention Marxist) ideology, now is the time for independents to rise up in competition with the conglomerates. It looks like there are going to be plenty of communities in need of new papers/mags/websites. Starting in Kendal?

    Web Ferret (18/12/2008 15:08:32)
    I understand that Chorley will be the only Citizen to survive this.
    By Tuesday (16/12) redundancy packages were already being agreed at the other papers, with talk of letting staff go be let go before Christmas.
    What a wonderful seasonal gift to the staff from Newsquest. Their generosity knows no bounds.

    Web Ferret (18/12/2008 15:12:40)
    Sorry folks! Just noticed the error in my comment. I’m just too cross about greedy (and increasingly desperate) shareholders wrecking our local press, that I can’t even put a sentence together!!

    sweatshopworker (24/12/2008 07:53:38)
    The pre-press sweatshop in Blackburn is also undergoing redundancies where 2 years ago the northwest production teams were centralised to save/axe some 15 jobs. With 40 left after 3 redundancies lately, 13 more jobs are to go. Already people travel from windermere and kendal every day to Blackburn using liftshares. the Gazette has been very thin in quantity now for 6 weeks where usually this only happens over 2 weeks at christmas. I also hear the estate agents can no longer afford the prices to advertise in the Gazette anymore. What’s the future there in the Blackburn production team?