More than 50 job losses are in prospect across Northcliffe Media’s regional titles with a fresh raft of subbing roles set to disappear.
The publisher is planning a reduction in the number of copy-subs, with reporters at some centres writing stories directly onto pages to pre-determined lengths as is already the case at Johnston Press and Archant.
The proposals, which were announced to staff today, will mean a wholesale reorganisation of the six production hubs set up across the group last year.
No overall figure has been put on the number of jobs set to disappear across the group, but it is thought to be between 50 and 70.
The proposed changes will see reporters on some titles writing headlines for single column and news-in-brief stories, with other headlines written by the newsdesk.
Unlike JP, Northcliffe has no plans to introduce a new content management system, with the existing Tera system being utilised to facilitate the changes.
Some of the page-planning and design subbing roles, originally moved to the hubs as part of the previous shake-up, are set to return to individual newspaper centres.
Most of the production hubs are set to survive in some form, although some will only be used to provide emergency back-up, ‘disaster recovery’ and sickness cover.
The three hubs most under threat are the South West hub at Plymouth, the West Midlands hub at Stoke, and the East Midlands hub in Nottingham.
The proposed South West changes will also see all editorial management of the WDP move to Plymouth and the two morning titles sharing features content.
Meanwhile the two Midlands hubs are likely to be broken up, with only a ‘virtual hub’ retained for emergency cover purposes.
The two remaining hubs at Swansea and Hull are however set to survive, though with reduced numbers.
Editors across the group briefed their staffs on the proposed changes earlier this afternoon and formal consultation processes are now under way.
Alan Qualtrough, the company’s South West regional editorial director, said the introduction of the hubs had significantly reduced costs, but further efficiencies were now possible.
“We are still operating in very tough times. Revenues have not returned in any shape or form to what we expected and we have to reduce our operating costs accordingly,” he told HTFP.
“We had reduced costs considerably last year by creating the hubs but we now need to move forward even further.”