AddThis SmartLayers

Newspapers set to go to press despite strike

Four newspapers in South Yorkshire will go to press as normal this week despite the majority of their staff being on strike.

Journalists at the Johnston Press-owned titles began indefinite strike action on Friday in protest at plans to cut 18 jobs, including two editors’ roles.

Selby Times deputy editor Richard Parker, who is one of the strikers, said this week’s paper is still expected to go to press as usual at lunchtime tomorrow but is being written by just two members of staff.

The National Union of Journalists is also claiming that a 16-year-old has been asked to extend his work experience by a week at Selby and asked to work on both news and sports stories for this week’s edition.

Speaking to HTFP on Monday Mr Parker claimed the quality of the news would be “poor” with children’s puzzles used to bulk out the content.

The Doncaster Free Press, which goes to print on Wednesday afternoons, normally has around 18 members of staff but this week’s edition is being written by editor Graeme Huston and his deputy Kath Finlay.

Journalists at the Free Press also believe young people on work experience  are being used to help publish their paper this week.

And the Mexborough-based South Yorkshire Times, whose editor Jim Oldfield is on strike,¬† is being produced at Doncaster by a “skeleton” staff, according to a union spokesperson.

NUJ negotiator¬† Lawrence Shaw said: “We want a full and unambiguous assurance from management that they are not relying on youngsters and students working for free to produce content to get their newspapers out.

“If SYN management were found to be abusing the goodwill of youngsters to break the strike it would be utterly unforgivable. They need to make it clear they are not doing this.”

The industrial action followed a unanimous ballot in protest at the company’s plans which National Union of Journalists members feel would result in increased workloads and hours.

Under the restructure, the editors’ jobs at the South Yorkshire Times and Goole Courier are set to disappear at risk, along with that of sports editor of the Doncaster Free Press.

The Mexborough journalists manned the picket line on Saturday and collected hundreds of signatures in support of their plight.

In addition, Mr Parker said 300 people in Selby had signed a petition in support of the strike.

Journalists in Doncaster have also received support from local personalities including actor Chris Walker who formerly starred in Coronation Street.

Johnston Press did not wish to comment when approached by HTFP.

6 comments

You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • July 19, 2011 at 8:57 am
    Permalink

    Keep up the pressure guys, no surrender!

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • July 19, 2011 at 9:48 am
    Permalink

    Nice to see my former colleague Richard putting his money where his mouth is and standing up for quality journalism. Always nice to see managers staying with the union.

    Good luck strikers – hope JP see sense.

    (Although, HTFP, Selby is not in South Yorkshire)

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • July 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm
    Permalink

    I’m not sure why my previous comment was moderated, I merely commented on the fact that Kath Finlay is still working, as the article itself mentions…

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • July 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm
    Permalink

    Aren’t people up and down the country being made every day? Why should journalists be treated any different. Redundancies are just a fact of modern life that we all have to cope with. I can see only one outcome from these strike if the papers do go to print – Bosses will realise that they can tighten their purse strings even more. More redundancies. Surely people should be fighting for their jobs by working, not getting the public to sign a worthless petition?!

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • July 20, 2011 at 11:39 am
    Permalink

    Nice fishing expedition BogNog – made me laugh out loud, especially the ‘find the missing word’ competition in the first sentence. Back to common sense – as well as job cuts, this strike is also about a total lack of confidence in the Ed-in-chief and MD. And as for Kath Finlay/Newton crossing the line, she is entitled to follow her conscience and isn’t in the union. I wouldn’t have the heart to do it, but if she can live with it, fair enough.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • July 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm
    Permalink

    I’m sure these journalists are pretty aware of what is going on up and down the country regarding redundancies BogNog but at least they’re fighting for not only their positions but for their readers, advertisers, everyone – nobody wants to see a shambolic paper represent their town and without these quality journalists, that is what readers will get tomorrow when the paper comes out minus all of its hard-working staff’s input. Will be the worst money spent buying tomorrow’s paper – spend it on a can of coke instead and wait until the REAL journalists come back and put quality back into their titles.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)