Local newspaper publisher Johnston Press is consulting with staff over plans to create a new centralised production operation in Sheffield.
The company is currently implementing a new Atex content management system for its papers nationwide which allows reporters to write stories and headlines directly onto templated pages, reducing the need for sub-editors.
The plan is now being rolled out in four of the businesses in the group’s Northern division – Sheffield Newspapers, South Yorkshire Newspapers, North Notts Newspapers and Derbyshire-based Wilfred Edmunds.
Titles affected include the Mansfield Chad series, Hucknall Despatch, Buxton Advertiser, Belper News, Doncaster Free Press and Ilkeston Advertiser. It is not yet known if or how many redundancies there would be as a result of these latest proposals.
It was initially proposed that the new subbing hub for these titles would be based at the home of the Derbyshire Times, in Chesterfield, but it is now planned to centralise the roles at the offices of The Star, in Sheffield.
If the plans are given the green light, a final decision regarding the proposed new structure is expected to be given to staff by 25 January.
As a result, scores of sub-editing roles have been axed although JP has said it would strive to find alternative employment for those affected.
A statement issued by Chris Green, MD for Johnston Newspapers North, said: “Johnston Press plc is to introduce a new editorial content management system in four of the businesses in North Division.
“The system, supplied by Atex, will allow both words and pictures to be handled by one system and improve newsgathering and content loading workflows. Relevant training will be given to all journalists prior to installation.
“The installation of the system will be phased over an eight week period and will replace the current editorial platforms.
“We have commenced the consultation process with affected staff and their representatives.”
An internal memo, seen by HTFP, added: “We have a few additional vacancies in other areas to enable some of those who might find it difficult to move to the new hub to stay with us.
“We appreciate of course that we cannot insist that everyone moves their office location and severance pay will be made available for those who choose not to transfer and where no alternatives are available.”
Juan (13/01/2010 11:05:19)
By “relevant training” JP means a few hours with trainers who barely know how to use the system themselves.
Yorkie (13/01/2010 12:21:50)
No matter how they dress up this new system with words, it’s ultimately all about saving money so why don’t they just admit it?
Their confidence in it being better and quicker for all has no grounding, as virtually all areas who have brought Atex in have said it really doesn’t work well at all.
A classic situation of management who have no idea how editorial operates pretending they do.
The idiots that earn all the stupid money at JP never fail to amaze me.
hacker (13/01/2010 12:34:54)
And the iceberg rips into another bulkhead…..
F. Johnston (13/01/2010 12:35:12)
This is about shedding jobs. The Star’s subs have been underemployed since it was cut to one edition and the pagination was slashed. Their deadline is first thing in the morning and then they twiddle their thumbs all day. However, it’ll be the luckless ones who can’t travel into Sheffield who’ll pay for Chris Green’s rationalistion with their jobs.
I got out while still sane (13/01/2010 13:00:50)
sad… sad… sad…
Jp Worker (13/01/2010 14:24:09)
Ah more intelligent thinking from the accountants, dressed up in more management-speak.
Let’s cut to the chase. The new system is yet another way to shave off more members of the workforce (“subs – who needs em?! What do they do?!”)
It doesn’t matter – after all, the readers won’t notice spelling mistakes or the lack of a reporter-come-sub-and-tea-boy-and-inputter not being out on the patch they used to cover with such enthusiasm and vigour.
How can staying couped up in an office “improve newgathering”? Answer – it doesn’t. But it saves money in the short-term and keeps the MDs in the top dogs’ good books. Who cares about long-term readership or the morale of the staff or even the “quality of the product” (Copyright – management speak). Bravo!
Monkey (13/01/2010 15:15:29)
I see someone (I wonder who…) complained about the messages having a go at Chris Green.
Truth hurt, does it?
Emily Moore (13/01/2010 15:15:54)
Well said Yorkie! It’s about time the truth was told.
JP sub (13/01/2010 15:35:09)
Atex might be a superior system, but the installation of it by JP has been poor and the training non-exisitant.
There are mistakes in the papers daily, wrong fonts, bust headlines, spelling mistakes and badly cropped pictures.
Staff morale is zero, everyone is afraid for their job and the reporters spend 90 per cent of their time re-writing press releases – they haven’t got time to file in-depth reports now – they are too busy worrying about production issues.
Readers are starting to notice (just read the comments on the websites) and it gives the papers a bad name. But even online there is no hope. There are not enough staff to maintain the websites and the online doesn’t seem to be taken seriously by JP.
HubbaSubba (13/01/2010 15:57:17)
I wonder if this shiny new subbing ‘hub’ will go the same way as JP’s Horsham subbing hub in West Sussex? Set up amid much fanfare a few months ago, it has, er, been disbanded and staff sent back whence they came!
Roger (13/01/2010 16:58:28)
Rip into THIS bulkhead!
Paul Linford, Editor (13/01/2010 17:08:26)
Monkey – I removed the comments in question about Chris Green as they amounted to personal attacks. See http://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/090330storycomments.shtml
Sheffield subs (14/01/2010 08:58:54)
Under-employed?! You’re having a laugh, ‘Freddie’! Understaffed, more like it, especially after job losses and non-replacements. Still, that doesn’t matter as quality journalism is being replaced by anyone in the office with no subbing expertise doing what we do now, adding hugely to their stress and getting in the way of their real jobs. So we can expect to be totally under-employed then, ie out of the door, or slaving in a regional sub hub.
cupcake (14/01/2010 10:15:35)
So without subs we can look forward to more pithy prose like ‘improve…content loading workflows’ and ‘editorial platforms’ whatever they be.
cupcake (14/01/2010 10:18:10)
So without subs we can look forward to more pithy prose like ‘improve…content loading workflows’ and ‘editorial platforms’.
The Smoking Man (18/01/2010 14:44:55)
Accountants and bean counters take over the once magnificent newspaper industry; soon entrenched within Johnston Press. Grey, visionless robots who have absolutely no interest or understanding of Newspapers or news – Short term profits, arbitrary cost-cutting and reductionism are their gods. Nose in the trough in a feeding frenzy. Once they have supped all, and ripped the heart and soul, emptying the trough – away they go, toward the next industry, knives ready…… fat bonuses in hand.
Meanwhile, the ‘staff units’, the numbers on balance sheets, that represent dedicated, passionate, hard-working sub-editors, are herded like cattle into centralised pens… all the better to execute the brutal mass cullings to follow! Who cares about readers and quality, when we can have ‘content?’
The once noble art of newspaper reporting, reduced now to mere ‘content gathering’.
verything is ‘content’… Are we ‘content’to let this happen to us?