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Vote of no confidence in Johnston Press MD

Journalists at the Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group, a division of Johnston Press, have passed a motion of no confidence in its MD Helen Oldham.

The National Union of Journalists says it is angry that staff are being given a choice of either leaving the company or transferring to a job which may not exist in the few weeks.

This latest development stems from JP’s decision to introduce a new Atex content management system which means reporters can write headlines and copy directly onto template pages, reducing the need for sub-editors.

Proposals are currently on the table to centralise production operations in Sheffield for JP’s title across the region.

Newspapers within the YWNG include the Wakefield Express, Morley Observer and Dewsbury Reporter.

The YWNG chapel says there has been a “lack of goodwill shown to all editorial staff” in the manner in which announcements relating to Atex have been made.

It also says the journalists have been pitted against each other and that information has been withheld from staff.

Dave Pickersgill, NUJ father of chapel at the YWNG, said: “There is real anger at the shabby way in which long-serving members of staff have been treated by Johnston Press and the way in which everyone in the editorial teams at our papers have been, and continue to be, kept in the dark about how our jobs and working conditions will be affected.

“We hold no grievance against managers at editorial level who will be tasked with restoring morale and making this work, but over and above them this issue had been handled appallingly.”

Earlier this week NUJ members at the Halifax Courier sent a protest letter to JP chief executive John Fry while journalists in Scarborough and Sheffield are currently being balloted over possible industrial action.

Johnston Press declined to comment on this story.


Old campaigner (06/04/2010 11:01:40)
As someone who has worked at several of these fine local newspapers over the years I am aghast at the JP cuts. The dismantling of many newspapers across Yorkshire by JP (and also Newsquest) is a tragedy. I met Freddie Johnston a couple of times and I thought he was a newspaperman. I know he’s stepping down – could it be from embarrassment? Other members of his family will be turning over in their graves. Scots and Yorkshiremen share a trait of not being keen to waste their money but what has happened across a range of traditional, historic newspapers goes beyond penny-pinching and into criminality. Good look with your protests people, I’m just grateful I’m out of it all now, but it makes me weep tears of anger and frustration.

Old campaigner (06/04/2010 11:04:20)
Oops. I should have ‘looked’ before I fell into the trap of pressing a button. UnLUCKy. Still, in the old days we had proof readers!

Johnston Press Fan Club (06/04/2010 11:40:43)
“No confidence” in a Johnston Press Managing Director? I’m stunned – in my experience they work extremely hard (especially during the festive period), look after employee’s interests and are very knowledgeable about editorial matters and how a newspaper operates, particularly with regards to their understanding of subbing.

Scribbler (06/04/2010 13:54:03)
Riddle: Why on earth would a company that tells us “Life Is Local” want to send sub-editors from Scarborough, Wakefield and Halifax to Sheffield?
Answer: because it doesn’t know its Atex from its elbow.

Wolfie (07/04/2010 08:58:43)
If what goes round comes round I’d hate to be among JP management – dumping on people like that. Watch out there’s a dark cloud on the horizon, think it’s an almighty pile of … well there you go

regionalhack (07/04/2010 13:55:16)
So John Fry and his great Atex scheme is the final straw for JP journalists, so long dumped on by a company so little interested in producing local papers, only in producing vast profits (and now paying off vast debts caused by reckless spending/empire building).
This vote of no confidence could be the precursor to the first national strike in newspapers for decades as the NUJ members ballot result is announced.
Well done John Fry!! I’m sure the banks and investors bankrolling JP’s debts are proud of your ‘turnround’ of Freddie’s once family firm…