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Union steps up pressure over subbing jobs

The National Union of Journalists has stepped up its campaign to halt plans to move 25 subbing roles from the North of England to South Wales after a Steve Dyson blog post on HTFP.

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.”


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  • March 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    “I don’t think our readers will notice any change”

    And therein lies the problem with Newsquest in a nutshell.

    Because readers DO.

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  • March 6, 2014 at 12:24 am

    Let’s add another ‘elephant in the room’. Too much of the talent, reporters, editors or subs who were a cut above but stayed on regional papers because they loved their patch, eventually found it unbearable… and legged it.
    They set the standard and their colleagues strove to match or surpass it. If you have a John Lewis mentality, going to work in the 99p Shop day in day out eventually does your head in. Look how many talented young editors and elder masters of our art grabbed voluntary redundo in recent years.

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  • March 6, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Run Away Ed is absolutely right – except that a whole tier of experienced (ie, expensive) people were made redundant without any choice so that relatively young and inexperienced people were promoted too soon. We are now seeing the results.

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  • March 7, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    Spot on runaway ed. Too much “fast food” being served up to the punters.
    You just end up feeling you are swimming against the tide. Better off out of it, while you still have some energy and life left.
    The problem with the regional newspaper industry currently is that effort does not equal reward.

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