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South Yorkshire journalists to ballot on industrial action

Journalists at a group of weekly newspapers in Yorkshire threatened with up to 18 job cuts are to ballot on industrial action.

Publisher Johnston Press announced plans last Friday to axe 18 posts at South Yorkshire Newspapers, including merging three weekly titles under one editor.

The posts of editor of both the South Yorkshire Times and Goole Courier will disappear, with both titles coming under the editor of the Selby Times.

National Union of Journalists’ members at the group voted to ballot on industrial action following an emergency chapel meeting yesterday, claiming the plans will cause “particular damage” to the Mexborough-based South Yorkshire Times.

The NUJ chapel also passed a vote of no confidence in management at the group.

Northern and midlands organiser Chris Morley said: “Management’s proposals show how flimsy are the Johnston Press claims to believe in local journalism to serve the communities where its newspapers circulate.

“The company has chosen to attack the editorial department of one of the best performing titles for circulation in its stable.

“The South Yorkshire Times has fought hard for its reputation as a campaigning newspaper that digs out stories people want to read but this seems to cut no ice with the corporate bean counters.

“Our members are in no mood to accept these wholesale cuts which merely undermine the jobs that remain for the future. Johnston Press has no idea or strategy to grow the business or defend its staff and customers with a positive strategy.”

No-one from Johnston Press was available for comment at the time of publication.

Last week, SYN managing director John Bills blamed the cutbacks on “underperforming advertising and circulation” and said that although 18 jobs were at risk of redundancy, there were eight vacancies within the company that those affected would be encouraged to apply for.


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  • June 22, 2011 at 11:05 am

    It is ironic that JP is willing to sacrifice the South Yorkshire Times – which is at least improving its poor circulation – and still ring-fence the failing-fast flagship title, the Doncaster Free Press, whose circulation and stature has fallen like a meteor these past few years since the female editor left. If the threatened editor of the SYT had been at the helm in Doncaster, maybe the DFP would be in a healthier position – it certainly wouldn’t be in any worse shape both in terms of morale or performance. And this is the thanks he and his team get.

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  • June 22, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Let be under no illusions here, JP’s plan is to merge the SY Times with the Doncaster Free Press.

    This line of the article stood out:

    “Last week, SYN managing director John Bills blamed the cutbacks on “underperforming advertising and circulation”.”

    So Mr Bills, why cut the editor of the Times, but keep on the editor of the Doncaster Free Press. The Times’ circulation has been increasing, the Free Press’ decreasing. There’s something more than fishy going on here…

    I’ll support the South Yorkshire Times staff all the way.

    No surrender.

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  • June 23, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    This week’s SYT carries the story of its own demise. Very boldly the editor has laid the facts before his readers, and is to be congratulated. Perhaps readers might even be considering boycotting the paper as a result of the changes – who knows? Not so long ago, one of the selling points was ‘Made in Mexborough’, but the Trades Description legislation will mean that’s no longer useable. I’ll bet the competition – The Advertiser/Weekender and Chronicle are poised to take advantage of this JP own goal.
    RIP the South Yorkshire Times: 1877 – ????

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