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Fresh round of jobs cuts at Northern Echo

Eight jobs are under threat at the Northern Echo in Darlington as a result of plans to merge its subbing operation with weekly sister titles.

The National Union of Journalists is up in arms over plans by publisher Newsquest North-East to create a combined subbing hub for the Echo and weekly stablemate the Darlington and Stockton Times.

It could spell a fresh wave of industrial trouble for Newsquest which is already facing two 48-hour strikes announced by NUJ members in Southampton over the company’s continuing pay freeze.

Journalists at the Newsquest-owned Argus in Brighton are also holding a strike ballot over plans to cut the number of sub-editors based there.

The proposed redundancies in Darlington include axing two sub editors, one reporter, one assistant editor, a production editor, website assistant, librarian and graphic designer.

All existing sub-editors will be forced to apply for posts within the new combined team.

Cost savings from the loss of the eight posts are expected to be in excess of £150,000 a year.

Company accounts show that the Newsquest North-East division made an after-tax profit of £3.2m last year.

Northern and Midlands organiser Chris Morley said: “The continued attack on editorial quality at a flagship centre like the Northern Echo through continued, deep and damaging job cuts shows the company’s disdain for hard working staff.

“It is also clear Newsquest has no concern for quality journalism and the long-term future of its titles.

“Our members are the company’s best assets and they are sick of being treated with contempt with a seemingly endless pay freeze and other constant attacks on their terms and conditions by a management that appears to view its staff as an enemy.”

Echo editor Peter Barron declined to respond to the NUJ’s comments.

9 comments

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  • November 5, 2010 at 9:39 am
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    The sad decline of the once-proud Echo and the award-winning Argus at opposite ends of the country sum up the state of the paper industry. Cutting costs is NOT efficient if you degrade the product and service- because you have fewer customers and less income. Simple common sense rarely seen in the boardrooms of newspapers in the 21st century.

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  • November 5, 2010 at 9:57 am
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    Congrats confederate. You must be aged 40 or more. You can use fewer and less properly. Most hacks and a good few young sub-editors can’t and have no idea what I am talking about!

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  • November 5, 2010 at 10:01 am
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    Pedantandproud is too modest. It’s not pedantic to write properly. If I hear one more BBC reporter say the Government ARE instead of IS I think i shall committ suicide by swallowing a dictionary whole. (or is a whole dictionary?)

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  • November 5, 2010 at 10:30 am
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    Glad to see we’re getting our priorities right here!

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  • November 5, 2010 at 10:48 am
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    Lord Whatsit; You don’t get it, do you? It’s all part of the decline. Some kids (not all, some are naturals) who can’t write and have no experience kept on because they are cheap and willing to do anything. Older hands shipped out because their pittance is still more than the kids get. Jobs cuts means poorer control on quality, including the standard of writing. That means fewer readers….we are going full circle here.

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  • November 5, 2010 at 12:49 pm
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    @Iputaspellonyou: a very good point. As resources get cut and cut, more and more errors are being introduced. Fewer skilled workers, more errors. Maybe many readers don’t care, but a good few who enjoy the more halcyon days of well-resourced, well-writte

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  • November 5, 2010 at 1:50 pm
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    As a former Echo sub, I just wanted to say that this is the saddest piece of news I have heard relating to our crumbling industry in a long time.

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  • November 5, 2010 at 2:48 pm
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    When I was a trainee 13 years ago I did some work experience at the Northern Echo and found it odd then that you could have two separate newspapers working on the same stories with the same angles and using similar pics from two different photographers. I covered a story and there were five of us from the same building all doing exactly the same thing! It was like working in the former eastern bloc! And before you ask, the story wasn’t “big” in any way – it was a group of puppies (cute and adorable admittedly) being named after the Boro first team. PS: It’s quite alarming that sacking 8 people only produces a saving of around £150K – how little are these people on? One of them is an assistant editor, for God’s sake.

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  • November 8, 2010 at 11:39 am
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    Fine point, Different view. Papers need to be more cute with how they use their resources.

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