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Up to 45 jobs go at Bristol dailies

Around 45 editorial jobs could go in Bristol as part of a radical plan to safeguard the future of the city’s two daily titles.

Staff at the Western Daily Press and Bristol Evening Post are being briefed today on the proposals which will involve single content and production desks for both titles.

Although it will remain a paid-for title, the WDP is set to become a “Metro-style” publication with fewer dedicated reporters and photographers.

Instead it will “harvest” content from other Northcliffe-owned publications around the western region.

The WDP website,, is also set to be scrapped after managers concluded the title had “no digital future.”

Instead it will point to the group’s other, more successful regional portals, www.thisisbristol, www.thisissomerset and www.thisisgloucestershire.

However the Bristol centre is to pilot what is expected to become a Northcliffe-wide initiative to turn the thisis sites into “hubs” of local information as well as newspaper companion sites, pulling in content from a wide variety of sources.

A single digital production desk is to be created along with the single print content and production desks.

The Bristol centre currently employs 154 editorial staff of which up to 45 could lose their jobs under today’s proposals.

Although reporting and photographic roles on the WDP are under threat, editor-in-chief Mike Norton has stressed that most of the cutbacks will fall on production as opposed to newsgathering roles.

Mike told HoldtheFrontPage: “I have tried to do everything I can to avoid redundancies. However, I have no other option that will ensure the futures of the Evening Post and the Western Daily Press.

“This is about back-of-house production efficiencies and will not affect the amount or the quality of our content. We will continue to provide the best local news and advertising service through our print and digital platforms.”

A formal consultation is now under way in which staff will be represented by the National Union of Journalists following its recent successful bid for recognition.

The consultation period is scheduled to end on Monday 2 March.


Mr_Osato (23/01/2009 14:19:08)
“production efficiencies will not affect the amount or the quality of our content”
yes they will

¤ø,¸¸,¤º ChillPhill º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º (23/01/2009 14:21:46)
Bristol first… the rest of the Northcliffe empire will surely follow.

P.Larkin (23/01/2009 15:32:47)
Better to do something and survive, rather than do nothing and go bust. It is an unfortunate fact that, in business terms, local newspapers can no longer sustain the staff numbers they once had. If Northcliffe is having to contemplate this kind of move then you can be certain there is good reason. Certainly its newspapers have a better chance of enduring than most…

All Subbed Out (23/01/2009 15:58:34)
For a whole region to effectively lose its dedicated daily paper, able to reflect fully on the issues and topics concerning the West of England, is astonishing. And as for Mr Norton’s pie-in-the-sky assertion that blithely disposing of nearly one-third of the editorial staff ‘will not affect the amount or quality of content’, I am really not sure what planet or even which plane of reality the deluded man thinks he is living on. But then the clue is in the wild babble about ‘hubs of local information’ – in other words, just processing content like corporate press releases and lifting from local government websites, rather than any actual, genuine journalism. Despite all the drivel spouted by Northcliffe and its ridiculous slogan about being ‘at the heart of all things local’, the future of local and regional journalism looks incredibly bleak in its hands.

Honest Broker (23/01/2009 16:04:41)
That’s an interesting idea Bristols. The problem is, the first thing any ‘local consortia’ would need to do is borrow heavily to finance their operation. Therefore the second thing they would do is… take out more cost!

Media Mouse (23/01/2009 16:50:48)
Saw this coming…
This approach effectively killed off the Bristol Observer in syndicating content from the BEP, so will the WDP become a free sheet too? Why would people want to rebuy their regional news?

bemused (23/01/2009 17:05:36)
So newspapers are no longer about journalism but copying and pasting. Why don’t Northcliffe’s greedy bosses go the full hog and get a load of school kids on work experience in to “content produce” the paper. Like this will help the WDP survive, it only hits the nail in the coffin. Local newspapers have a vital role to play in society and it’s not lining the pockets of Lord bloody Rothermere! People trust local news, they don’t trust the nationals we should be building on this not relying on the over-stretched press association to write copy for the whole damn country. It makes me so so angry, helpless and sad.

F. Johnston (23/01/2009 17:54:58)
Metro-style – free and full of PA.
‘Harvested’ content’ – ripped off from somehere else.
‘Back-of-house production efficiencies’ – giant, impersonal factories churning out bland, homogenised templated pap.
‘No digital future’. – no future at all.
And this is going to happen elsewhere in Northcliffe very soon . . .

T.Ruth (26/01/2009 11:30:47)
Can’t see it happening Mr Johnston. All Northcliffe papers are not like the WDP. The WDP is a dead duck. Has been for some time. Of course its subs are going to be angry about losing their jobs. But the paper doesn’t make any money. In its present form it is not a viable business proposition. And that’s an unfortunate fact.