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Sheffield journalists to fight proposed job cuts

Journalists at Sheffield Newspapers have launched a “Save our Star” campaign to protest against proposed editorial redundancies announced this week.

As previously reported by HoldtheFrontPage this week, several long-serving staff are set to lose their jobs while two district offices have been earmarked for closure at the South Yorkshire daily.

Owners Johnston Press have said only that consultations have started concerning the possible restructuring of various roles within the Star’s editorial department and the proposed closure of its branch offices in Barnsley and Rotherham.

But journalists are to seek backing from MPs and other public figures in South Yorkshire in a bid to halt the plans.

At a meeting of the newspaper’s National Union of Journalists’ chapel yesterday afternoon, staff also passed a vote of no confidence in the newspaper’s editor, Alan Powell.

The union, which represents 80pc of the staff, has also set in motion a ballot for industrial action over the proposed cutbacks.

Journalists so far at risk of redundancy over the plans are picture editor Dennis Lound, Profile magazine and Star business editor John Highfield, assistant editor Richard Smith, Barnsley reporter Gail Robinson and Rotherham reporter Ray Parkin.

The five employees have more than 100 years’ service between them and John Highfield was named Business Writer of the Year at the Yorkshire Press Awards in 2007.

NUJ mother-of-chapel Julia Armstrong said: “Feelings are running high and people are angry. We feel The Star is paying the price for Johnston Press’s greedy spending spree over the last few years.

“We believe the way to sell more newspapers is to invest in editorial content rather than employ a skeleton staff and we will fight these cuts.”

The “Save Our Star” campaign will aim to enlist public support for their stand and journalists also hope to gain the backing of MPs and other influential figures in South Yorkshire.

They are also planning to launch a petition to save the paper whose long-term future they claim is under threat.

Comments

Charlotte Peters Rock (08/08/2008 11:26:47)
Of course Johnston Press have the Yorkshire Local press all sewn up. This is one of the problems of that.
Effectively nothing gets into the press in Yorkshire without the say so of whoever runs this monolith.
Isn’t it time for a breakaway local newspaper, which might serve the community?
PS Whatever happened to freedom of the press?

F Johnston (08/08/2008 12:24:20)
I agree entirely. Johnston Press has been developing a stranglehold on the local press in this area and others and its policy of centralised management and curtailment of local control is anti-democratic and damaging to press freedom. It’s about time they are challenged the way they are failing their readers, advertisers and staff and, in the long-term, their shareholders.

Alan Salter (11/08/2008 15:40:02)
Tragic. Don’t know what to do? Get rid of spome staff and make those left behind pick up the pieces….

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