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Publisher plans new titles with axed Johnston Press journalists

The publisher of a Yorkshire newspaper is in talks with two former Johnston Press journalists about starting up their own titles.

Danny Lockwood, publisher of Dewsbury based independent weekly The Press, has offered a lifeline to journalists made redundant by Johnston Press during its recent wave of editorial restructuring in Yorkshire.

Last month he appealed to any journalists  who might be interested in setting up their own newspaper in towns such as Brighouse, Todmorden and Hebden Bridge to contact him.

The move followed the decision by Johnston Press to close the offices of the Brighouse Echo, Todmorden News and Hebden Bridge Times and run all three titles from Halifax, as well as making Echo editor Stephen Firth redundant.

Danny, who set up The Press in 2002 in opposition to long-established title the Dewsbury Reporter,  told HTFP he had received a “shed load” of responses to his appeal.

He is now exploring two potential new newspaper launches with ex-JP journalists – one in Yorkshire and another in the North-East where there have also been a series of recent job losses.

Said Danny: “I have one journalist who’s almost written the business plan I’m nudging him towards, but the question is whether he can commit enough to give up the current mundane job – which puts food on the table, not to be sniffed at – in order to live the dream like I did.

“To the ones who seemed remotely interested in proper involvement, I sent a diluted version of my “how to launch a local paper” business start-up pack. It’s a series of market and media questions that apply to any readership area and if you can tick 9/10 boxes you might just have a business on your hands.”

However Danny revealed that his offer of help for out-of-work journalists had been misinterpreted by some, saying 9opc of them were from people looking for either jobs or shifts.

He added: “I had people from 80 miles away wanting to do casual work, which suggests they don’t quite ‘get’ my business.

“From the Halifax/Huddersfield area which prompted the piece I had several inquiries but none from key individuals and none from anyone with more than “a day or two a week freelancing” to devote to something they thought sounded a ‘brilliant’ idea.”

Johnston Press has previously declined to comment either on the Yorkshire office closures or on the decision to make Stephen Firth redundant.

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