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Reporters sacrifice pay to save colleague

Four reporters at two West Wales weeklies have agreed to a cut in working hours in a bid to prevent a fellow journalist being made redundant.

Newsquest was looking for one redundancy from the seven-strong reporting team which produces the Milford Mercury and Western Telegraph.

But the threatened job loss appears to have been averted after four reporters agreed to an equal cut in hours on the condition they all remained in their posts.

As a result of the move, which has yet to be formally approved by management, the National Union of Journalists chapel has called off a possible ballot over industrial action.

Lawrence Shaw, NUJ assistant organiser for Wales, said: “They will be working less hours and having a pay cut and if anyone was to leave the situation would revert back to normal.

“I don’t think it’s a particularly great solution but that’s the decision the four reporters have made and I think it demonstrates they want to continue working for the paper.

“Newsquest is still a massively profitable company which has incredibly loyal staff who care about the job they do and that’s what this reflects.

“It’s not something the union would advocate doing and I cannot stress too much about how unhappy I am about it.”

Lawrence said that no official agreement with Newsquest management had been finalised yet and the actual amount of work lost could be at least a day, if not slightly more.

The Milford Mercury’s office, in Milford Haven, is also due to close within the next few weeks with staff relocating to the Western Telegraph’s base, in Haverfordwest.

Other Newsquest Wales titles include the Tivyside Advertiser and South Wales Guardian which is also due to lose one reporter from its office, in Ammanford.

Newsquest Wales managing director Gavin Steacy was unavailable for comment.


Reg Burnard (18/12/2008 21:40:55)
Frequently, you use the expression: “…was unavailable for comment.” What does this mean? Does it mean someone would not comment, could not be contacted, refused to answer the telephone, was said to be away? Or what?

Miss Cynical (19/12/2008 09:41:38)
This story summarises all the reasons why I left journalism.
I loved being a reporter – but surely, there should come a point when you realise you’re not working for a charity! Journalists are skilled professionals who should be rewarded fairly for their work, not continue to be ‘grateful’ for having a job.
The journalists’ action will be seen as ‘noble’ by many who stay in the profession, whatever the cost.
But seriously, how can these journos even consider this, given that it is in such marked contrast to the appalling treatment of journalists by newspaper bosses – and the gloomy outlook for the future?
The journalists’ ‘kindness’ sends out the message that the team will cope with any amount of cr*p that management throws at them – is that really a good result?!
I work in PR now and I cannot recommend it enough.
Journalists continually mock me for ‘selling out.’
However, I’m earning 50 per cent more than I have done in some reporting roles, (yes, the money does make me happy!)and it’s great to have a life again at evenings and weekends.
It’s not as much ‘fun’ but at least everyone understands it’s business – and pays you for it.

HoldtheFrontPage (19/12/2008 09:48:10)
“Unavailable for comment” means we tried to reach someone and left a message but they didn’t get back to us before the article in question went live. It could mean they were genuinely unavailable, but it could also mean that they were effectively declining to comment by failing to return our call.
We would only tend to say that someone “declined to comment,” however, if that person or their representative actually told us that.

Once upon a 50 hour week (19/12/2008 09:56:01)
“They will be working less hours and having a pay cut”.
Will they? Really?
It’s a rare journalist who actually works their contracted hours. The majority (particularly at local weeklys) put in far more without overtime.

Peter Smith (19/12/2008 10:31:38)
So they will be working “less” hours? Doesn’t that say something about literacy standards among today’s journalists? In my day a crusty old sub would have torn me off a strip for writing that. “Less” when referring to quantity; “fewer” when talking numbers, please. It does matter. I am reminded of the football manager who said that next time two teams met he hoped there would be “less violent incidents”. In other words, he hoped there would be violent incidents, but not as violent as previously. Well, that’s what he said.

Disgruntled reporter (19/12/2008 12:28:52)
Another story about another greedy newspaper company making staff cuts while raking in fat profits. Meanwhile loyal reporters are working longer hours to keep up with these demands.
What these reporters have done is admirable – but it’s
funny how you never hear any stories about top management taking pay cuts to help out the financial situation.
It’s time these people led by example

Holly Seddon (19/12/2008 12:38:59)
I’m glad I’m not the only one who bristled at the misuse of ‘less’.

billy (19/12/2008 12:42:31)
you might want to chase another story for this region HTFP which is the editor of the free press series being made redundant and replaced by the deputy editor of the south wales argus. Several other managers have also gone. Give them a call and see what comment they make!!!

Golam Murtaza (20/12/2008 21:59:55)
I think the top managers must now realise the extent to which we lowly editorial staff loathe them. They avoid my own newspaper office like the plague. Haven’t seen any of them for many months. I guess that’s one small consolation.

John (20/12/2008 22:44:39)
Miss cynical, I can only wholeheartedly agree.
I quit my newspaper job in June to travel and am now looking for another paper job. I am actually doing a bit of part time PR and after a certain amount of adjustment (for example, getting used to not having the thrill of covering hard news) I am starting to see its benefits.
I get paid £150 a day, the people at management level treat me with respect, there are plenty of perks (paid for evenings out and a great xmas party this year) and job security.
I have no idea what I will do in the future and I am still applying for senior reporter roles on newspapers. But I am slowly coming round to life after newspapers…

harry (21/12/2008 16:01:42)
What about the redunantcies at the Dorset Echo!?

Golam Murtaza (22/12/2008 06:28:30)
Good for you John. Hope you make a real go of things in PR. Don’t go and martyr yourself for this crumbling industry. I’m sticking with it for the time being but only because I’ve found a decent post where the workload isn’t too high and where my colleagues are pretty cool. Once this position disappears I’m bailing out too. To hell with our incompetent managers and to hell with our editors for not standing up to them.