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Weekly editors face axe in Tamworth shake-up

More than 20 people including three weekly editors are set to lose their jobs as a result of the shake-up at a series of Midlands titles announced last week.

As reported on HoldtheFrontPage, subbing operations at Tamworth-based Central Independent Newspapers are to be centralised at sister daily The Sentinel, Stoke.

Further details of the proposals have now emerged and it is understood that 24 of the 42 jobs currently based at Tamworth are at risk, including the editors of four free weekly titles and features staff as well as sub-editors.

Those facing possible redundancy include Lichfield Mercury editor Tim Hewitt, Natalie Missenden, editor of the Walsall Advertiser and the Great Barr Observer, and Sutton Coldfield Observer editor Charlotte Hart.

It is proposed that in future all four free titles will come under the control of Tamworth Herald editor Gary Phelps, who was already editor-in-chief of Northcliffe-owned CIN.

In addition all of the CIN titles, including the paid-for Herald, will be subbed at the new production hub at the Sentinel’s offices in Stoke.

The Tamworth centre will retain a staff of 18 comprising Gary and his deputy Phil Shanahan, together with two news editors, ten reporters, two photographers and two sports writers.

Some of the displaced staff will be able to apply for additional production posts being created in Stoke, but this will involve them making a 90-mile round trip.

In addition to the changes at Tamworth, a “single-figure number” of redundancies have been proposed at the Sentinel itself, including three photographic posts and one assistant editor role.

Editor-in-chief Mike Sassi stressed that the process was still ongoing. “We have begun a process of consultation with a number of staff. As yet we haven’t made any firm decisions,” he said.


Chopper (ex Lich Merc & CIN) (05/02/2009 11:34:57)
What a terrible shame, some of the best local newspapers in the Uk being sacrfificed. The industry cannot afford to lose these talented people.

Sheila (05/02/2009 11:50:03)
And there will be more… yes, we’re in the middle of a communications revolution but the heart is going to be ripped out of communities and standards chucked out of the window in the name of profit. ‘Down the blog’ pretty well sums up the future.

Ess Jayar (05/02/2009 13:49:10)
If only the big regional media giants would realise the best way to save their papers – and make a handsome return – is to produce better core products, not devalue them by imposing crappy freesheets in their circulation areas.
Back not sack your staff; invest and be proud Northcliffe, JP, Newsquest, Archant, etc

Hannah (05/02/2009 14:42:34)
Totally agree that investment is needed – but so is a shakeup. If we (and by “we” I mean the whole industry) are going to invest we need to invest in getting staff in for the website, getting staff trained to produce quality videos/podcasts/slideshows/blogs etc and keeping up with the digital world.
If this shakeup doesn’t involve the above, I fail to see the point of it, but ufortunately shakeups nearly always involve people being made redundant.

Dean Shooley (05/02/2009 16:39:53)
Reality bites-Main advertising revenue came from Housing, Cars and Jobs. No house sales,no car sales, no jobs.
Newspapers have no relevance beyond the half dozen National papers who influence Politicians

Paul (06/02/2009 14:38:58)
The editors who are losing their jobs are all talented people, such a waste. I have followed the career of Tim Hewitt who has given so many years to the Mercury newspapers. What about the photographers, 3 out of 5 being made redundant? I have also followed Allan Williamson’s long service at the Mercury and the awards he has won with his brilliant photography. What a tragedy if he loses his job? What is happening to community newspapers?

Rose (06/02/2009 16:59:18)
As a long reader of the Lichfield Mercury, I am sad to see the potential losses of such talented editors such as Tim Hewitt and photographers such as Allan Williamson. The Lichfield photographers and reporters are part of the community and well respected. What do these job losses say to the community who value their contribution to Lichfield life so much?

Patricia (06/02/2009 17:34:29)
How can you decide to axe the jobs of people who have been in the publishing business for all of their working lives…dedicated editors, photographers and reporters.
Tim Hewitt and Allen Williamson have the respect of all those in and out of journalism.It will be a sorry day if The Mercury loses them.
If you want quality newspapers ..then you need quality staff…See sense before it’s too late altogether!