A number of sub-editing roles are at risk at Newsquest titles in the South of England as a result of a new centralised subbing hub plan.
Newsquest has already shifted production of its West Midlands titles to a subbing hub in Newport, Gwent, and is in the process of doing the same with its Yorkshire and North East stable.
Now it has unveiled plans to move the production of its Sussex titles to Weymouth, home of the Dorset Echo.
As a result of the plan, six sub-editing roles based at company’s Hampshire production centre in Southampton together with two based at The Argus in Brighton have been placed at risk of redundancy.
In addition, the posts of deputy editor of the Hampshire Chronicle and editor of Hampshire Society magazine – both predominantly production roles – are also under threat.
And HTFP understands that the post of web editor at The Argus, whhich is currently held by two people on a jobshare, is also set to disappear.
However it is likely that a number of new sub-editing roles will be created in Weymouth if the proposal goes ahead, with staff being given the opportunity to transfer.
It read: “In order to improve operational efficiency within the Newsquest Sussex business and to reduce costs, we are notifying you of Brighton’s (Newsquest Sussex Limited) proposal to transfer their sub editing production contract with Southampton to the Weymouth (Newsquest Media (Southern) Limited) sub editing unit in Dorset.
“This proposal follows steps already taken which moved the contract of sub editing production for Newsquest Wiltshire products created for the Salisbury centre, from Southampton to the Weymouth subbing unit earlier this year.
“The joint effect of losing this work from the Southampton Subbing Unit would be the loss of revenue into the Hampshire region, which could not be absorbed in Hampshire. A number of new sub editing posts would, however, be created at the Weymouth centre, should the proposal go ahead.
“The proposal, if agreed, would necessitate a restructure of the editorial production department at Southampton to enable all pages on all Hampshire publications, except sport to be subbed by any subbing unit staff members. Therefore, unfortunately, your role is at risk of redundancy.
“As part of these proposed changes all sub editing roles in the department at Southampton, with the exception of sports production, would move directly under the control of the regional chief sub editor, in a general subbing unit, working on any publication, therefore removing the distinction between news, features and supplements, and including the Hampshire Chronicle, Hampshire Society specialist sub editors.
“The subbing of the Hampshire Chronicle and Hampshire Society will be conducted by the new proposed Southampton subbing unit serving all Hampshire publications.
“The roles of Hampshire Society Editor and Hampshire Chronicle deputy editor would therefore cease with the proposed new structure and regretfully these roles are also at risk of redundancy.
“If the proposal goes ahead, therefore, this would entail the loss of approximately 6FTE consisting of sub-editing and design posts except sport.”
A formal consultation process is due to begin tomorrow and will continue until 16 May.
Laura Davison, national organiser for the National Union of Journalists commented: “These proposals are already discredited.
“We know from experience elsewhere that shifting subbing further away from the communities the papers serve doesn’t work. Readers deserve better than this relentless cost cutting by Newsquest.
“The staff affected cannot simply uproot their families and their lives. Newsquest is putting them in an impossible situation. And, to top it off, draconian pay freezes in five out of the last six years will also hit redundancy payments.”