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More than 230 journalists ‘made redundant by JP’

Regional publisher Johnston Press made more than 230 journalists redundant in the last year, according to the National Union of Journalists

The union has published an open letter which it handed out to shareholders attending the group’s AGM this lunchtime, in which it criticises the performance of the company under chief executive John Fry, who will step down next year. 

In the letter, the union says of the editorial staff made redundant by the publisher, 85pc of these had volunteered to leave, showing the ‘poor morale’ among staff, while it says those who were made compulsory redundant were often treated badly. 

It also highlights the pay rise of 4.3pc to £1.01m which it claims Mr Fry received in 2010, saying he received a £1.18m pay package in total including increases in pension contributions. 

The NUJ’s letter said: “The Johnston Press annual report boasts about ‘local content,’ ‘teams of local experts’ and proclaims that ‘Content is King’. 

“Yet behind the corporate jargon, the company has reduced staff in its editorial teams dramatically in the last 12 months, with so-called ‘back-office functions’ – which include newspaper content creators – being moved sometimes miles away from the communities they serve. 

“The much-hailed new content management system is ‘operational’ across the business. This is purely down to the hard work of journalists. 

“The company’s failure to invest in new hardware made the shaky implementation of the system exceedingly difficult. Similar systems have been introduced successfully at other newspaper groups who recognised this was a key investment that couldn’t be brought in on the cheap.”

Johnston Press declined to comment.