Regional publisher Newsquest wants to centralise production of all its Yorkshire and North East titles at Newport, Gwent, with up to 25 jobs at risk.
Writing on HTFP today, the former Birmingham Mail editor ran the rule over six Newsquest-owned titles in the Midlands which are already produced at the Newport hub.
Steve’s blog post uncovered what he described as a catalogue of “subbing horrors” including missing picture captions, typos in headlines and poor advert/picture juxtapositions.
Now the NUJ, which has already held a one-day strike over the issue, has called on Newsquest to call an immediate halt to the plans, which it says risks making flagship titles such as the Northern Echo, Bradford Telegraph & Argus a “laughing stock.”
Northern and Midlands organiser Chris Morley said: “The findings of Steve Dyson, an independent and respected media commentator, only confirms the NUJ’s own monitoring of journalistic standards for titles already being produced from Newsquest’s factory journalism hub.
“We have been aware of the serious shortcomings in a whole welter of different areas of editorial content brought about by a software system that has not yet proved to work, serious lack of staff in Newport and unreasonable demands made of those workers.
“These widespread flaws are nowhere near being resolved – and may never be. But Newsquest is still relentlessly seeking to axe the jobs of two dozen skilled and experienced journalists in the local centres in Yorkshire and Darlington and to send the work hundreds of miles away to a factory with dubious quality.
Added Chris: “The potential damage to three of Newsquest’s flagship daily titles is incalculable given the quantum leap in the number of pages to be subbed for already badly overstretched staff in Newport.
“Our chapels are demanding that local knowledge and experience is retained in the centres to prevent a reputational disaster for their titles.”
Newsquest has yet to respond, but in a press statement last week, bosses said they were “delighted” with the results of the central unit after the Gazette & Herald in North Yorkshire became the first of the group’s titles in the region to move production there.
Steve Hughes, managing editor of Newsquest York, said: “There’s a been a lot of nonsense said and written about our papers being edited in Wales which is mischievous and simply not true.
“It’s a really well thought out system which is fully integrated with the web and allows our journalists to work much more efficiently, doing what they do best which is getting out and about and covering local news and sport.
Jo Kelly, editor of the Gazette, added: “I’m very pleased with today’s paper and don’t think our readers will notice any change. Now that production is fully integrated with the internet, our reporters will have more time to concentrate on writing and covering events in the communities we serve.”