A further cull of staff affecting over 40 sub-editors appears to be on the cards at Johnston Press titles in the Midlands.
Staff were told yesterday that three centralised subbing hubs – launched earlier this year in Peterborough, Milton Keynes and Northampton – are themselves to be merged into one in Peterborough.
JP workers have told HTFP that around 55 staff are expected to be reduced to 11 and that a formal consultation period is now under way.
Temporary workers, who were taken on to help implement a new content management system, are due to finish the week before Christmas, sources also said.
The formation of the three hubs in the spring provided a centralised subbing base for all Johnston Press weekly titles across Northamptonshire, Anglia, Lincolnshire, Warwickshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire at the expense of around 50 jobs.
This preceded the roll-out of JP’s new Atex editorial content management system which allows reporters to write stories directly onto template pages and create print and online headlines, reducing the need for sub-editors.
It is expected that this new system will be implemented across all JP divisions by the end of 2010 with the Midlands being the first to start using it.
Johnston Press has now issued a company statement on the proposed changes. Read the latest update on the story here.
Kelly (10/12/2009 09:51:47)
This is desperately sad news for everyone at all of JP’s Midlands titles. Our subs are some of our most experienced, wise and talented staff and it is a real own-goal that they are being cast adrift. There will soon be nothing left of these once great papers. The new ‘content management’system will kill-off any individuality these papers had left.
Staff left at these papers feel as though we are on a sinking ship. How can JP be surprised that we are losing our readership so quickly when they keep on cutting and cutting. Can our bosses not see the correlation in the drop in standards with the drop in reader numbers?
All Subbed Out (10/12/2009 10:22:04)
So just a handful of trained subs for dozens of titles across a vast swathe of Eastern England and the East Midlands are supposed to guard against errors (including lack of local knowledge) and legal issues created by reporters writing merrily away into templates? That’ll be fun – and yet more reasons why people buy fewer local papers.
Concerned JP member of staff (10/12/2009 10:24:53)
Get rid of experienced heads – good idea! It won’t lead to even more mistakes, papers getting sued and overworked reporters taking on double the duties for no extra pay, not to mention disgruntled readers fed up with quality being diminished. The people making these decisions clearly know nothing about journalism – and everything about champagne, schmoozing the bank manager and destroying local newspapers. Merry Christmas!
Anon (10/12/2009 10:29:28)
Journalism is being reduced to blogging. Sad news for those under “consultation” but the reality is that you’re better off out of it.
hackette (10/12/2009 11:46:30)
Here in the frozen north it seems the new cumbersome and hated JP content management system is the greatest rip off ever imposed on reporters, who of course are much cheaper to employ than subs.
With many JP papers already running at crisis staff levels reporters are now spending their day fiddling with production tasks instead of looking for stories, badly hitting the flow of copy and the quality of what they manage to scramble together.
JP management is so far removed from the real world (too long since many of them worked on the shop floor) that it could not foresee that, of course.
Good people with talent and experience are being ditched while people with dangerously little or no journalism experience are being over-promoted.
It will all end in tears one day when some JP title cops a big legal bill.
Soon to be unemployed JP sub (10/12/2009 12:29:08)
The company is so deep in debt that it appears managment have given up hope of any sort of long-term future. Instead, they are cutting costs wherever possible (causing significant harm to papers in the process) and trying to plough on with minimal overheads so they can max out their pension pots before the house of cards collapses. Most of the papers I work on now look like amateur newsletters.
Major Eyeswater (10/12/2009 12:29:11)
Will the last one out please switch of the lights…
Major Eyeswater (10/12/2009 12:37:04)
…or even switch “off” the lights. Where’s a sub when you need one? Oh…
JP slide to nowhere (10/12/2009 12:39:49)
Ah it’s alright, we’re in safe hands. The people in charge know what subs do, don’t they?…Let’s recall Mr Fry’s recent interview… “If you want 500 words, how about the reporter writing 500 words, rather than writing 1000, and giving it to a second person to cut it?” That’s sorted then!
Past caring (10/12/2009 13:37:38)
Headline states: ‘Over 40 jobs under threat in new JP subs hub move’.
Should be ‘More than 40 jobs…’ as any sub kno.
DollsHouseBuilder (10/12/2009 13:39:57)
How come ex-boss Bowdler hasn’t apologised to all JP employees on behalf of the board for making all the stupid, greedy acquisition decisions in the past which has resulted in vast loans with masses of interest to pay? It’s all right for that bunch of well-heeled gits – they are bomb-proof in Edinburgh Palace.
Dave Ross (10/12/2009 13:57:03)
Centralised subbing has been a disaster and the new content-management system is even worse. No-one should be surprised at this latest cost-cutting wheeze. Do the people who run JP never lift their noses from their balance sheets to look around them? They know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Why not have done with it and simply let PR firms download their press releases straight on to pages and websites?
All Subbed Out (10/12/2009 14:01:09)
Of course reporters spend more time on production tasks like web uploading and putting headlines in templates than they do on reporting. Proper local reporting is dead – it’s too expensive for today’s fat cat megamedia group bosses. All they want is ‘content’ to pump out on ‘platforms’ and it doesn’t matter what that is or how cheaply it is found. Any old press release will cut and paste to fill the space.
already redundant sub (10/12/2009 14:29:59)
Just a thought … if reporters are writing directly to templates and creating headlines who’s doing the checking? Some of the reporters I worked with couldn’t spell Bob backwards.
Quality is being sacrificed on the altar of greed. You can tell a good sub has used that sign-off line. Here’s another one: RIP JP.
Fox Mulder (10/12/2009 14:44:59)
So 12 months ago there were more than 100 subs in the Midlands division – and by the end of these latest cutbacks there’ll be 11? That’s a one in 10 chance of keeping your job for the divisions that haven’t already been reorganised (like most of the North Division). Not good odds eh?
Onlooker (10/12/2009 14:52:38)
At least those experienced subs about to lose their jobs know they worked in what was, in its time, a golden age for local journalism – unlike the youngsters currently being driven into near insanity by unworkable new practices. Pity we didn’t appreciate it back then. Pity it won’t make a shred of difference to paying the bills today.
Cornelius Atweasle (10/12/2009 16:10:38)
And just what is the NUJ doing? Stupid question, I know.
hacker (10/12/2009 16:15:40)
When I think of the newsroom I worked in with the barebones staff it now has – and think of it without the subs. Sad. Sad, sad, sad.
Onion (10/12/2009 17:11:54)
What’s worse is that there is no going back on these things. What are you going to do: spend a huge amount on the bigger office space you would need again, invest in the extra computers
you are going to need again? No way. These things are here to stay…..
Worker (10/12/2009 17:12:08)
Sadly I feel some of us are under the illusion that the people making these decisions actually care. Actually care about morale of staff, quality of the newspaper and even what readers think. Frankly they don’t. The important thing is getting a Christmas card from the bank manager and having enough notes to get extra wads of cavier this Christmas. Sad but true.
richard meredith (10/12/2009 17:45:24)
A sad day indeed for all good journos at JP. Just at the moment when doughty Rupert Murdoch and dapper Ray Tindle take up the cudgels to invest in better content and hearten newsrooms right across the land, where is JP heading? Plum in the other direction. Oh dear, not exactly inspirational is it? Wallpaper? Paint stripper more like. Unlike Murdoch and Tindle, JP’s own Big Idea to charge for content is looking more and more like a desperate last gamble and less and less of a positive initiative that might, just might, have inspired any decent journo that there really could be a future with them after all.
duncan danley (11/12/2009 12:32:40)
I’m sure that 55 into 11 will go but while the Johnston management know how to play the numbers game, they clearly do not appreciate the business of words. Having spent 14 happy weeks as a freelance sub-editor in Northampton, I cannot possibly see how you can turn reporters into subs and just toss away a tier of newspaper production as though it was easy as losing an invoice. This is the end of real journalism as we know it – and I feel for the full-time subs in Northampton whose skills, honesty and integrity are no longer appreciated or required by a company who clearly want to run their products (well they have product managers) into the ground. This REALLY is the end of the road for regional newspapers, hence this message is being sent from the middle of the Med!
Concerned Share-holder (11/12/2009 13:21:08)
I am very worried about the direction JP is going. a friend alerted me to this story and I have to say my local JP paper has gone downhill drastically in the last few weeks – the website is a joke too.
I have no faith in the current management, as the cost cutting is destroying the product – which is shooting yourself in the foot in the long run. JP are pushing their papers out of business.
JP for Mastermind (11/12/2009 15:05:55)
Concerned shareholder you’ve hit the nail on the head – save a bit now and watch the “product” progressively decline and break down in the long run. A bit of sense would suggest investment would – while costing the profit-making firm some money in the short-term – would potentially save it in the long-term. But that’s assuming management know what they’re doing. Frankly they don’t have a clue.
Northcliffe Journo (11/12/2009 15:21:43)
Speaking as someone currently attempting to get a legible paper out via a sub hub, I can tell that this is a very bad move. Our hub seems to be testing the theory that if you give 1,000 monkeys 1,000 typewriters they will eventually produce the works of Shakespeare . . .
Mrchips (11/12/2009 15:38:08)
What a terrible state of affairs. When the first sub hubs were set up at Northamton and Milton Keynes I made the difficult decision to leave JP and bid farewell to a great group of news room colleagues. Pity now the poor subs who decided to take jobs under the new regime. Looks like the majority of them will also now be out of a job. What a slap in the face for those who worked such long hours for a lot less pay to make sure JP successfully got through it all.