AddThis SmartLayers

Subs face 200-mile round-trip to production hub

A newspaper group in North Yorkshire is facing around six redundancies as a result of plans to centralise its production in Sheffield.

The move affects staff at the Scarborough Evening News and around ten weekly sister titles including the Whitby Gazette, Malton and Pickering Mercury and Bridlington Free Press.

The papers, owned by Johnston Press subsidiary Yorkshire Regional Newspapers, are the latest to switch over to the new Atex editorial content management system currently being rolled-out across JP.

It is understood that subs have been told they can either apply for five reporting vacancies across YRN or relocate to Sheffield, which is 102 miles away by road.

YRN managing director Jason Rewse-Davies said: “Yorkshire Regional Newspapers is to introduce a new editorial content management system to improve the way news and information is delivered to their print and online platforms.

“The system, supplied by Atex, will allow both words and pictures to be handled by one system as well as improve the newsgathering and content loading workflows.

“As part of this proposal, the subediting and design activity currently undertaken in Yorkshire Regional Newspapers will transfer to the Sheffield Newspapers production hub under Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment Regulations 2006 (TUPE).

“Consultation with affected production staff and their representatives has commenced.”

National Union of Journalists’ Northern organiser Chris Morley called the company’s actions “deplorable.”

“The Johnston Group is saying, in effect, that it doesn’t care about the impact of forcing an extra journey of an hour-and-a-half to work upon sub-editors being told to move from Scarborough to Sheffield. The alternative if they refuse to move is to compete for a number of lower-paid jobs.”

“Management is treating employees in Scarborough in this deplorable way because it clearly feels no responsibility for their welfare or proper employment.

NUJ members across JP recently voted 87pc in favour of taking some form of industrial action over the introduction of Atex in an ‘indicative ballot.’


monkeybusiness (10/03/2010 10:54:54)
I worked at the SEN for two and-a-half years and can’t help but feel sorry for the affected staff. I don’t see many subs choosing to make the trip to Sheffield somehow. The paper was printed on site in my day – now its all done in South Yorkshire, making the “Evening” in the title redundant.
No doubt this move will help maximise profits even further at Johnston’s though.

hilary Jones (10/03/2010 10:57:09)
They might be better off in the lower-paid local jobs – JP won’t be paying their mileage and after April petrol will be around 120p a litre. It’s effectively a huge pay cut either way, which the NUJ seems to miss when it’s negotiating. All the centralisers do the same thing (Northcliffe did when it moved Cheltenham to Bristol) and get away with it. Disgraceful.

Onlooker (10/03/2010 11:29:21)
This outrageous bullying of staff to protect profit margins won’t go on forever. I hope the senior managers behind it enjoy the power-tripping while it lasts. I also hope all their ‘guilty names’ are being marked down for the future when journalists finally get the power and the opportunity to bite back at them.

jpvictim (10/03/2010 12:25:42)
I would urge the subs to leave JP now. On past experience the hub will be a short-term measure and when the reporters are made to write completely on screen,including headlines, there will be no subs anyway. We were “relocated” – but it only lasted a few months before the hub was itself redundant. Don’t be fooled like we were.

The Smoking Man (10/03/2010 12:40:14)
The logic behind this latest ‘development’ is fairly obvious, and it does not take a genius to figure out that this is simply a form of brutal and cynical ‘constructive redundancy’… creating a situation in which the bewildered, beaten-down YRN subs are driven into giving up their jobs due to untenable circumstances.
More hack ‘n’ slash pillaging of company resources. More uncaring cost cutting in order to secure short term profit.
Naturally, having relieved themselves of an entire department of inconvenient ‘cost units’ (MangSpeek for hard-working, passionate, highly-trained staff who give their all for a product they believe in) the workloads will be transfered onto the already overstretched, under-resourced stressed-out-to-hell Production Hub at Sheffield.
Still eh? Having the redundancy bat held permanently over one’s head, like the Sword of Damacles, is a great motivator to take on extra work innit? I’m sure they won’t be able to complain too much!…

Tommy Tom Tom (10/03/2010 13:03:29)
Atex is horrible, cumbersome and slow with very few advantages. If management had to use it they’d have got rid of it on day one, but we’re left with it whether we like it or not.
As for the hub and travelling etc, JP couldn’t care less as long as the managers’ pockets remain lined.
Their clueless perception of how the editorial side of things works is astounding, and so evident in many of the poor decisions they make.

JP Worker (10/03/2010 14:23:04)
More genius decisions from the marketing men, accountants and jumped-up little ad reps. A poor, poor process handled shoddily and insensitively for a system which is, for all intents and purposes, horrendous.
Let’s look closer – “…a new editorial content management system to improve the way news and information is delivered…”
e.g. – Delivered by reporters attempting to clumsily expand a short picture story into a major feature-length story.
“The system, supplied by Atex, will…improve the newsgathering and content loading workflows.”
Yes, “improve” newsgathering by putting the handcuffs on overworked reporters rather than allowing them to get out and about outdoors on their patch.
Welcome to Johnston Press – “keeping it local”, caring for its staff and readers.

outofit (10/03/2010 15:46:03)
The JP-led destruction of a credible provincial press gathers apace.
Tommy Tom Tom and JP Worker are bang on the nail. JP management are clueless about editorial systems, work practices, ethics etc. What’s worse is that they don’t want to understand, yet journalism is a main plank of any newspaper (unless, of course, it happens to be a council paper!)
All that matters is cutting costs to the bone to maintain profits. Such a short-sighted view.
Where the Atex systyem has been introduced quality has declined dramatically. Readers aren’t daft – as falling circulations prove.
While inept, greedy and ignorant people remain in charge of companies like JP, the future for provincial journalism is bleak.

Cyberdame (11/03/2010 11:19:13)
Any JP subs considering relocating their family to Sheffield to take up a subbing post there should think again. If what happened at Trinity Mirror Midlands is anything to go by, you’ll be out of a job again by the time you get your kids into a new school there. All the Trinity Mirror subs who were moved to a central subbing operation at Birmingham in November 2008 were made redundant by January 2010.

Ex-JP employee (11/03/2010 12:32:41)
The best way out of this is to fight tooth and nail for a redundancy pay-off. You get shot of JP with a (hopefully) healthy lump sum. Trying to stay with the company by relocating or even trying to stay where you are, is pointless. I really don’t know how the senior managers sleep at night with this kind of situation going on. I mean, they can’t honestly believe they are doing their jobs WELL can they?

regionalhack (11/03/2010 13:23:34)
The local paper business has a remarkable ability to keep shooting itself in either it’s head or foot, too stupid to learn.
No wonder Freddie Johnston is giving up/stepping down from the company which bears his family name. This is disgraceful running of a ‘local’ newspaper.
Also s
hows that former Archant, now JP boss John Fry is a one trick pony, simply cutting subs where-ever he goes. Also means that in JP paper towns, the only truly locally produced paper with be run my the local council…

OlPeculier (11/03/2010 14:23:47)
As a reader of the Scarborough Evening News (which is available for purchase before the postman has arrived…) it’s widely regarded as a low quality paper with the sole reason people purchase it is out of fear of missing some nugget of information.
It’s a crying shame.

David Miller (12/03/2010 12:20:01)
One-and-a-half hours from Scarborough to Sheffield? 102 miles. More like two-and-a- half at best. That’s a five-hour round trip each day.

JP slave (12/03/2010 13:58:21)
None of this has been unexpected, but the lies told have been staggering. As a YRN reporter, to be told the loss of a hard-working, talented team of subs will have no impact on quality or workloads for remaining staff is a staggering con. Standards have been falling for years – the flagship SEN is a hotchpotch of bought-in, PA, PR and advertising crap – reporters encouraged to reprduce press releases; those of us who do anything i would call journalism do it intheir own time. They’ve lost my good will for good.

Escapee (12/03/2010 16:16:33)
When I escaped the YRN subs more than two years ago everyone was being bled dry – give more and get less in return. How I feel for the loyal professionals being cast aside having given so much to keep the vastly overpaid chiefs in their ivory towers. It hurts to say it but I will do everything in my power to discourage my son from entering journalism when he leaves university – he would never know when he was going to be stabbed in the back.