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Poster about axed sports editor leads to war of words

A row has broken out over a leaflet distributed by striking journalists in South Yorkshire.

The leaflet, handed out at a football match in Doncaster, had a picture of editor-in-chief of South Yorkshire Newspapers Graeme Huston, under the heading ‘The man who kicked the Catt.’

Peter Catt, formerly the long-standing sports editor of the Doncaster Free Press, is among 18 people whose jobs are being axed under proposals by publisher Johnston Press.

Editor of the South Yorkshire Times, Jim Oldfield, also received his notice of redundancy two weeks ago but is in the process of appealing it.

The  leaflet distributed by the National Union of Journalists read on the back:  “What happens when you’re good at your job?…They give you the boot.”

It led managing director of South Yorkshire Newspapers, John Bills, to write a letter to the NUJ’s Northern and Midlands organiser Chris Morley.

In the letter he stated that such actions are not acceptable and asked that union members be reminded of their responsibilities and code of practice while taking part in industrial action.

In his response Mr Morley said the material was accurate and fair comment and suggested that if the story of Peter Catt’s dismissal had been properly reported in the newspaper, then derogatory comments about Mr Huston would have gone directly to his office.

Union members have been on strike for almost six weeks in protest at the plans as they feel the changes will result in increased workloads and hours. Titles affected include the South Yorkshire Times, Epworth Bells, Selby Times, Doncaster Free Press and Goole Courier.

Johnston Press did not wish to comment.

42 comments

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  • August 23, 2011 at 1:49 pm
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    *YAWN*

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  • August 23, 2011 at 5:04 pm
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    Why is the NUJ sanctioning what amounts to nothing more than a glorified witch hunt?
    I was in two minds about whether or not to rejoin the union in these uncertain times, but I will never give my money to an organisation which engages in this kind of contemptible behaviour.
    And shame on you Peter Catt for allowing your name to be used in this way.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 9:35 am
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    Well “ExNUJmember”, if you want to talk about witch hunts, you might want to ask NUJ activist and former South Yorkshire Times editor Jim Oldfield how he feels having been deliberately targeted for redundancy after asking legitimate questions over Johnston Press strategy for South Yorkshire Newspapers. Being now out of work as a result he may feel a little bit more “witch hunted” than Graeme Huston who has been gently ribbed on a lighthearted leaflet.

    I am concerned to hear that you were ready to rejoin the NUJ but that apparently this issue has now made you not.

    I would like to offer to talk to you personally, in detail, about the dispute to ensure that you have a full picture of everything that has gone on so that you can make a more informed judgement on whether or not to rejoin the NUJ. You can find my contact details on the NUJ website – or feel free to drop me a message on our office email nujmanchester@nuj.org.uk and I can get back to you or give you a call at your convenience.

    I actually suspect your message is utterly disingenuous and you have never been a member or had any intention of being a member of the NUJ, and you are simply trying to detract attention from how the dispute is being dealt with by the company. So I am ready and willing to be proved wrong.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 12:34 pm
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    Laurence… haven’t you got anything better to do than be a puppet masterr… it seem syou have a large chip on your shoulder with JP and you are using these striking journo’s as puppets in your personal battle.

    Maybe all your energy should be put into a leaflet stating the true facts about the sports editors departure and the fact that the Editor of the DFP hasn’t booted him. Maybe then all the frail old people putting money into your bucket may refrain from doing so.

    I’ll give you one thing… you have the qualifications to be Gadaffi’s press officer so at least you can move on when you have lost these striking journo’s their jobs.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 12:36 pm
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    ch – I’m really not sure what your question is getting at.

    If you are asking whether the union members followed all the many laborious and drawn out procedures set out in UK law to ballot to have a lawful industrial dispute then YES this is an “official” strike in the eyes of the law. The Doncaster NUJ chapel voted 100 per cent to take strike action on a 90 per cent turnout over the issues of cuts and the subsequent impact on the papers and workloads.

    This has been well documented on this site and the entire trade press over the past two months.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 12:48 pm
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    Fed up of this now: Oh dear, getting a bit uppity? Strikers annoying you? Why not tell us who you are and what link you have to the dispute? I have my suspicions…

    As a full-time officer of the union (not hiding behind a cloak of anonymity) I do what members ask me to do. Not the other way around as most management stooges like to portray. Do you really think that working journalists in 2011 would unquestioningly do what either I or any other union full-timer told them to do? They make their own minds up.

    The incontrovertible truth is that 90 per cent of the union members (your staff?) returned their papers in a secret postal ballot and every single one of them opted to strike. They have carried that through into action and still not a single member has gone back to work.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 1:16 pm
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    I can’t believe any journalist would not support this strike. The actions of JP in South Yorks are being replicated by other media corporations at regional and local papers up and down this country. These papers, which provide a vital public service, are being neutered and closed down by detatched bosses in search of nothing but pure profit and their exorbitant bonuses, while good journalists are being axed.

    To call an NUJ official a “puppet master” for facilitating a legitimate protest by journalists who would fall victim to JP’s shallow and flawed business “plan” is blind.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 1:24 pm
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    Lawrence you are using dirty tactics to try and blacken the names of people and you have got your facts wrong… this is not a strike anymore… it’s personal attack on the company and certain people who work for it. What you are doing is highly disgraceful and you are miss-informing the public.

    After all the phone hacking issuesin the news recently you would think that you would at least start being truthful… we live in hope.

    Why can’t you just tell the truth? It it because, in reality, the strikers would have nothing to strike for?

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  • August 24, 2011 at 1:30 pm
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    incidentally Lawrence… in reply to your tweet I am not a stooge… reply here instead of asking your sheepish followers to ‘pile in’ on twitter

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  • August 24, 2011 at 1:32 pm
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    The NUJ hopes to glean support for what they are doing at SYN – and they got it, for a while. Now they will lose all ground they might have gained because of this underhand dirty tricks campaign.

    Graeme Huston is a genuine, decent man and, regardless of who made what decision and when, this pathetic attempt to turn him into the villain of the piece is plain nasty.

    Gently ribbed on a lighthearted leaflet’? Don’t make me laugh.

    Act with some common decency people. And please, don’t state that ‘the company haven’t acted decently so why should you?’ That’s not any sort of argument, and any journalist (NUJ member or no) will see that…

    Fight your case, but take yourselves out of the gutter to do it.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 1:35 pm
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    IwasanMoC… it’s not blind… You must condone the bullying tactics they are using and the underage people they have used to hand out leaflets to the public (if only i could post pics here to prove the point)… So workexperience people cannot do work experience at a newspaper but 12 year olds or younger are able to hand out leaflets with the strikers… realitycheck.com

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  • August 24, 2011 at 1:48 pm
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    Agree with JP journalist. Personal attacks on editors for what are almost always decisions made much higher up the chain are totally uncalled for. I’d be surprised if there is any editor in the country who relishes the prospect of running a newspaper with fewer staff than they had before. If there is a villain of this piece, Graeme Huston is not it.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 1:57 pm
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    It’s a tiring debating with anonymous keyboard warriors who could all be one and same person so I’ll just say this.

    Everything we have put out as a union in this dispute, and everything I have written, is accurate, true and fair comment. You can bleat all you want about “miss-informing (sic) the public” but you seem to fall down when it comes to actually telling us what details are wrong. As with every single thing we have put out, Johnston Press refuse to comment…

    If the company, or you personally, believe something is wrong then please feel free to take your complaints through the relevant legal channels open to you. It would make for a fascinating day at court.

    In the meantime my advice to you would be to respect the democratic decision of your colleagues to continue striking and stop referring to them as “puppets”.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 2:11 pm
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    Lawrence…

    Did the sports editor not take voluntary redundancy..?

    Did he work for the company for ten years and not a lifetime..?

    Did he not walk straight into another job with another company..?

    It seems to me that you are using the said sports editor to prove a point that doesn’t actually exist and to make other eople look bad.

    My advice to you would be to refrain from peddling made up stories on leaflets to the public and respect the lives of the people you are accusing…

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  • August 24, 2011 at 2:42 pm
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    Lawrence… Regarding yoru tweet I am neither JP nor DFP management I am merely voicing my opinion… I just can’t stand innocent people being bullied… funny that cos your blog profile says you like exposing them…

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  • August 24, 2011 at 2:49 pm
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    Then tell us who you are.

    Because you seem to be remarkably close to this dispute.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm
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    How about you answer the three questions put to you above… I think people are more interested in the answer to that rather than who I may or may not be…

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  • August 24, 2011 at 3:13 pm
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    Looking at the web stats and it seems the hundreds of click-throughs I’ve had from this site to the blog piece have died down in the past few hours. So I don’t think anyone cares any more about this apart from you, me and the chapel members who are all watching this really very amusing exchange.

    The truth is that the role of Sports Editor was targeted by the company for redundancy and the Sports Editor’s role has now gone and will not be replaced.

    You really should do some work seeing as the paper goes to bed soon. Haven’t you got some restaurants to review or something?

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  • August 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm
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    Interesting how Mr Shaw hasn’t answered any of Fed Up of This Now’s questions about Mr Catt’s departure. These kind of antics, and the likes of Mr Shaw are the very reason I cancelled my NUJ membership.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm
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    Of course it is Paper Boy.

    Nothing to do with the fact you don’t actually exist other than an anonymous figment of someone’s imagination on the internet and have never been in the NUJ anyway.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 3:32 pm
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    How dare you. This is the kind of childish behaviour I was fed up of. Basically, anyone who doesn’t agree with you is either a ‘liar’ or ‘doesn’t exist’. Is this the kind of stance you take in negotiations? I’m sure current NUJ members are over the moon that their subs go towards paying you to spend all day ranting on on HTFP.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 4:13 pm
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    Totally agree with class of ’86, personal attacks on editors are very uncalled for!!! Are you guys so foolish to believe the buck stops with Mr. Huston???? I think not!!!

    I am all for the Unions and what they stand for but i can’t help but feel you are forgeting the very reason you started the industrial action instead choosing to create a campaign of hate, victimisation and harassment against one man. While also accusing the company of these very acts against its employers.

    If you want to be heard and fight for what you believe in, then do just that. Do not get tied up in these dirty little tactics because in the end thats all you will be remembered for :-)

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  • August 24, 2011 at 4:33 pm
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    Oh dear Lawrence, this one is really not going in your favour is it?

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  • August 24, 2011 at 4:36 pm
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    I know Graeme Huston, I have known him for many years. You won’t find a more hard-working and genuine man. Any personal attack on him is a disgrace.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 4:40 pm
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    it doesn’t matter who I am… it really doesn’t… or where I am… what does matter is the gutter tactics used to try and prove a pointless point need to stop… plus people ARE interested in you answering the questions put to you earlier… I’m sure the chapel are watching… and eagerly awaiting the next string pull…

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  • August 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm
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    everyone has the right to stand up for what they believe in
    what isnt right is dirty, underhand tactics and victimisation of individuals, this will not get you any support from anyone

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  • August 24, 2011 at 5:16 pm
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    Lawrence is awfully quiet. Must have done the decent thing accepted that he has well and truly lost this argument.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 5:30 pm
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    GO Fed Up Of This Now! It’s about time people on the other side of this (joke) strike start speaking out.

    Fight for all that is good Fed Up of This Now!! Hard working people that are fighting for their local newspapers, feeling the heat and not buckling under the pressure of all the excess work brough on by the cuts but even more so, by the strikers. Unlike the loudmouths that are making everyone feel uncomfortable throughout the towns market and should be put to shhame by publicly bullying an individual.

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  • August 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm
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    Lawrence is, however, the only person who has been prepared to use his real name in this discussion. Rather than spout off on the internet, perhaps his keyboard detractors could instead encourage their Johnston Press chums to get round the table and talk, which is something they haven’t been prepared to do without preconditions since the strike started.

    And I don’t know Mr Huston but he (or at least his friends) do seem remarkably thin-skinned if they can’t handle a bit of light mockery in a leaflet. Journalism’s a rough old knockabout business, I’m sure he’ll cope.

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  • August 25, 2011 at 9:26 am
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    Will the real slim shady please stand up…

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  • August 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm
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    Whipper Snapper wrote:

    …”I am all for the Unions and what they stand for but i can’t help but feel you are forgeting the very reason you started the industrial action instead choosing to create a campaign of hate, victimisation and harassment against one man”…

    If Huston was a man, he wouldn’t have crossed the picket line.

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  • August 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm
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    SYTR – Members of the union who voted for industrial action are well within their rights to strike if that is their wish.

    Are those who aren’t in the union, and who do not wish to take industrial action not entitled to get on with their work?

    Doesn’t sound very democratic if you ask me.

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  • August 25, 2011 at 2:21 pm
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    They are entitled to do as they wish, but it doesn’t mean to say that others have to agree with their choices, nor not be allowed to publicise their choices.

    My previous comment, to which you have replied was, if you couldn’t tell, my opinion. Equally, you don’t have to agree with my opinion; “it’s what makes the world go round”! :-)

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  • August 30, 2011 at 10:07 am
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    Response from Peter Catt:

    While the comments attached to this article may have provided amusement for some, the heart of the matter – loss of jobs and people’s livelihoods – is far from funny.
    Just to set the record straight I was unaware of the content until I was handed a leaflet on my way to a football match, so have no reason to feel shame for allowing my name to be used in that way as suggested by ExNUJmember.
    The answer to each of the questions posed by Fed up of this now… is no.
    My redundancy WAS compulsory.
    Had there been a choice between voluntary redundancy and staying in my job I would have chosen the latter.
    I was employed by the company for ten years but had previously worked for them on a freelance basis for almost 30 years, chiefly covering the fortunes of the local football team.
    I’ll leave others to decide whether that constitutes a lifetime.
    I did not walk straight into another job with another company.
    In fact, I am still unemployed so, if Fed up of this now… requires his/her copy subbing for accuracy, I am available – at NUJ rates, of course.

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  • August 30, 2011 at 4:17 pm
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    Oh dear, the detractors have all gone awfully quiet since Peter put the record straight. Where is the “Former New (sic) of the World Employee” now?

    Must have done the decent thing accepted that he has well and truly lost this argument.

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