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Six editor roles at risk in Johnston Press restructure

David SummersSix editors’ posts are at risk at Johnston Press as part of its move towards the “newsroom of the future” with deputy editor and newsdesk roles also at risk.

The reorganisation in the publisher’s South Midlands region will see titles split into four geographic divisions likely to be overseen by a single group editor in David Summers, currently in charge of the Northampton Chronicle and Echo.

The six other existing editor roles in the region will disappear, with a new editor to be appointed for each of the four new divisions.

It is not yet known how many, if any, jobs will be lost as a result – although staff have been told there is no scheme in place for voluntary redundancy.

As reported by HTFP last month, the company is rolling out its “newsroom of the future” initiative across three of its regional divisions – the South Midlands, Scottish weeklies and North Midlands and South Yorkshire, where the scheme was first trialled.

The six South Midlands editors whose existing roles are set to disappear in the restructure are:

It is understood that the three Northamptonshire papers will comprise one of the new divisions, with the Leicestershire and Warwickshire titles combined into another division and two further divisions in the south of the region.

Each of the four divisions will be headed by an editor reporting into David as group editor.

Existing deputy editor and news editor roles will also disappear to be replaced by one or more content editors in each region.

In addition, two centralised ‘hubs’ will be created for managing community news and user generated content and sport across the 80-mile long region, with two additional senior roles created to head these.

JP bosses have undertaken a “mapping” exercise of management staff in the region with staff set to be told of their new roles before the changes come into effect on Monday 20 April.

No reporting jobs are thought to be under threat by the move, although it is believed journalists will be asked to return to working occasional weekend shifts.

One JP employee told HTFP: “People don’t know where they’re going to fit in. They’re worried for their own livelihoods for a start, but they’re worried about their titles.

“The only people left at JP are hardliners who love the job and have 10 years plus at the paper they work for.  They want to see it do well and there’s a sense of ‘what is going to happen to our paper?'”

A spokeswoman for Johnston Press said: “We have already shared our plans to reorganise our newsrooms and deliver quality content more effectively in response to the changing ways our audiences consume news and information.

“These plans for our ‘newsrooms of the future’ are now being shared and shaped locally and a proposed structure was discussed with our team in the South Midlands last week.

“As these discussions are ongoing it wouldn’t be appropriate or fair to disclose further details at this stage.”

50 comments

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  • March 2, 2015 at 7:53 am
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    The newsroom of the future doesn’t appear to need any local news?

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  • March 2, 2015 at 8:57 am
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    Newsroom of the Future: No editors, no subs, no reporters, no photographers, just shared stories and pictures from untrained sources – otherwise known as Facebook or Twitter.

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  • March 2, 2015 at 8:59 am
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    The newsroom of the future doesn’t appear to need any staff.

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  • March 2, 2015 at 9:01 am
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    Strewth – it doesn’t look good when this is rolled out

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  • March 2, 2015 at 9:23 am
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    Charming. This “industry” doesn’t deserve success any more.

    It’s completely clueless,

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  • March 2, 2015 at 10:06 am
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    It’s Johnston Press supremo Ashley Highfield I’m worried about. The way things are going, he’ll be wanting to rejoin the BBC pretty soon, but doing what?
    May I suggest the corporation creates a new post for him…Director of Democracy. He could be assisted by those two Beeb survivors John Humphrys and Jeremy Paxman.
    If that’s a little too ambitious (not to say expensive), how about World War One Celebrations Co-ordinator? This latter post should be good for three or four years, give him time to get himself sorted out.

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  • March 2, 2015 at 10:21 am
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    I do have mostly sympathy for these people, but they must have known it was coming as I’m sure they’ve overseen the issuing of P45s to many of their staff. Not that that was their fault, but the writing has been quite evidently on the wall and they could have tried to get out earlier if they’d wanted to (although you would definitely make sure you received your full redundo payment)

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  • March 2, 2015 at 10:23 am
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    At least this isn’t described as “exciting”

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  • March 2, 2015 at 10:35 am
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    There are too many managers and middle men in the newspaper industry anyways, so a good cull will help out the industry in the long term.

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  • March 2, 2015 at 10:48 am
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    There are no redundancy payments on offer. They’re just going to push these editors into lesser roles and hope that they leave voluntarily, therefore eliminating the need for large payouts. The existing reporters are also being forced to compete for fewer news reporting roles with the remainder making up the UGC / community team which, lets face it, is not a reporting role at all.

    The staff who remain at these papers have been through years of restructuring, redundancies and hideous treatment. They have been the guinea pigs for a host of JP pet projects – for sub hubs, for the conversion from daily to weekly and now for the newsroom of the future. Some reward for their loyalty eh?

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  • March 2, 2015 at 10:55 am
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    Welcome to the warehouse of redundoed editors. Come on in…the weather’s lovely.

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  • March 2, 2015 at 11:32 am
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    Once again the music stops and a few more chairs are removed.

    Regardless of whether people should have jumped earlier (Scoop) – and sometimes it takes as much guts to stay as it does to leave – this latest cull is not of middle men and managers but hard-working, loyal journalists (Cull).
    It has to be seen as the final throw of the dice for this company in the newspaper business.

    How can anyone left in JP actually feel safe in their job, good about their product or have confidence in anything the management say?

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  • March 2, 2015 at 11:49 am
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    JP have cut, cut and cut again!! They have turned one quality newspapers into overpriced rags. What will begin to happen is that others who run traditional newspapers in a traditional way will step in and expand their own brands and wipe the floor with JP titles. There are many small and family owned newspaper companies out there which are still successful. It will be the opposite of the big fish swallowing up the little ones. The JP shark will be devoured by many small fish! Why? Because JP have put quality out the door.

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  • March 2, 2015 at 12:06 pm
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    It really doesn’t pay to be a hard working, dedicated employee in JP. They’ll just use you up and throw you out.

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  • March 2, 2015 at 12:08 pm
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    RIP local and regional journalism as we know it. It really is time JP simply shut up shop, told all the shareholders they had lost most of their money and allowed staff of the individual titles to buy their own newspapers in management buyout deals. It’s quite apparent that the future lies in independently owned newspapers/websites that can provide the communities they serve with professional content while cutting their cloth accordingly.

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  • March 2, 2015 at 12:13 pm
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    So the JP spokeswoman thinks they have shared their vision of the future? All we’ve had is management-speak airy fairy visions of the ‘way forward’ and no practical or factual info on how it will work on the ground. They don’t even seem to be able to tell us where we will be working. Someone says here that all those involved knew it was coming but that’s the problem, we don’t know what is coming, when or where it is coming. Frankly, I don’t think JP’s incompetent senior management know either.

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  • March 2, 2015 at 12:35 pm
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    MrAngry the journalists at my paper would love a decent independent to open on our doorstep so we could go and work for them. JP have no competition to challenge them here. We are still with JP because we have mortgages and families and have no choice. We don’t have any pride in working here now. That’s long ge.

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  • March 2, 2015 at 12:46 pm
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    Let’s not bother with editors, subs, photographers or even reporters any more. Just bring in the user generated content and whack it all up onto the internet

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  • March 2, 2015 at 1:30 pm
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    If JP was serious about delivering “quality content” it would not have allowed some of the best feature writers and senior reporters to take voluntary redundancy, or forced out talented photographers: it would not have axed the cartoonists/illustrators and out-sourced advert creation to India. This is totally about cost cutting, but the more all the JP titles become less local, less relevant, the fewer readers they’ll retain. The percentage of staff that are just hoping to cling on to their jobs, rather than enjoying them, and caring about the products must be at an all time high.

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  • March 2, 2015 at 1:36 pm
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    The sooner JP is taken over or broken up, the better for all concerned – even current employees. Talk about lions led by donkeys.

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  • March 2, 2015 at 2:04 pm
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    We’re going to need a bigger warehouse. Wherever it is.

    One thing’s for certain though, there are some good editors stored away in there.

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  • March 2, 2015 at 2:27 pm
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    On a point of information, Newsroom of the Future was the 2008 version of the future thus making this Newsroom of the Future, The Sequel.

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  • March 2, 2015 at 2:43 pm
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    JP couldn’t run a p*** up in a br****y. I feel desperately sorry for all those editors who have battled to maintain the quality of their products since JP pressed the self destruct button six years ago. Many will not get jobs in the industry because there is nowhere for them to go. I said in another comment on another post that printed newspapers will not exist in five years’ time – I’m wrong it could be less than three years at this rate.

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  • March 2, 2015 at 3:46 pm
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    Its a dangerous thing when any company loses very good people.The most successful companies usually hire the best, not fire them. To make them redundant is carelessness. To think newspapers will really sell as they once did, filled only with readers photos and weak stories is foolishness.Sadly the Bowdler era debt is now consuming JP like a terminal disease.

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  • March 2, 2015 at 4:58 pm
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    Feel sorry for the editors going. One made me redundant few years ago. Not their fault or problem. These papers haven’t adapted well to digital unlike their daily compatriots. There’s alternatives out there now, social media has leveled the playing field. Good quality is needed to fight it, JP is shedding it rapidly.

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  • March 2, 2015 at 5:51 pm
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    As sales fall, they cut costs and put the price up. Look at The Portsmouth News, they put their cover price up 5p today, to 70p. Yes 70p for a regional daily with 48 pages – 12 sheets of folded paper. Then sales fall again, and repeat.

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  • March 2, 2015 at 9:09 pm
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    Firstly, I have to say how awful this is for the people involved and their families. I feel for them.

    However, to all of those people banging on about quality etc please shut up! Newspapers have not been about quality news for more than 50 years, ever since publishers realised how much money they could make out of jobs, property, motors and classifieds.

    That has all gone online now and the current business model for news is unsustainable. The quality of stories makes no odds if fewer people are buying it for what used to be their main reason and there’s not enough revenue being generated to pay the largest cost, which is usually staff!

    Yes, the quality of blogs, tweets, Facebook posts etc are often quite shocking, but that’s where people are, where the audience clearly doesn’t care about a few literals or fact checking and, most importantly, where customers are happy to now spend money. What’s wrong with newspapers trying to muscle in on a bit of that?

    What’s wrong with UGC? What’s wrong with Twitpics? What’s wrong with a local blogger raising his own profile? Reporters, subs and editors are not the experts everyone in the newsroom believes that they are perceived to be and it’s about time the moaners took a long, hard look at what they expect to be paid for and compare it with what others happily do for free.

    There is a living to be made as a reporter, just not in the newsroom. It’s about finding something you’re passionate about, writing informed articles about it, promoting yourself as an ‘expert’ and finding someone who’ll pay for it or be willing to advertise alongside it.

    There are thousands of people making money out of YouTube videos, online blogs etc and about all manner of subjects. As I said, reporters are no longer the revered experts… but members of the public are!

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  • March 2, 2015 at 9:56 pm
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    Call me cynical but since when did ‘brewery’ require sanitation asterisk?

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  • March 2, 2015 at 10:03 pm
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    This is no more than slashing the wage bill knowing people will be desperate enough to fill the roles on lower wages with fewer staff but with a greater workload and no reward for assuming greater responsibilities

    I’m sorry jez but you know this is an utter joke

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  • March 3, 2015 at 4:36 am
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    JP might consult with the editors but certainly it does not consult with the foot soldiers on the ground.
    It should try listening to them. We know some savings must be made and staff can suggest how things might be run better.
    But the top bosses don’t want to listen.
    Instead they come up with top heavy, one size fit all solutions that are totally inappropriate for the communities they serve.
    JP is not a shark but rather a lumbering clumsy dinosaur.
    The future is lean and agile and most certainly local, something JP isn’t.
    The age of the dinosaur will soon be over.
    JP is seeing to that.

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  • March 3, 2015 at 9:21 am
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    Oliver – I think you are getting reporters mixed up with bloggers – or columnists as we used to know them.
    Reporters report (the clue is in the name).
    It does not take an expert to sit through a council committee and spout off that this service or facility needs saving, but you do need some nous to dig through agendas, develop contacts among councillors and officers, to listen and then to write an article that informs the reader.
    And your comments: ‘The quality of stories makes no odds’ and ‘that’s where people are, where the audience clearly doesn’t care about a few literals or fact checking’ shocks and scares me, especially IF you are employed in the media and call yourself a reporter!

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  • March 3, 2015 at 10:27 am
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    Oliver is quite right in his analysis of newspaper managements down the years. Forty years ago many regional newspapers were nothing less than a licence to print money. The paper I worked for at the time regularly left out 40-50 broadsheet pages of classified ads because of a lack of press capacity.
    In those sort of circumstances it is easy to become complacent, but it is criminally negligent to allow that revenue stream to be hi-jacked by Internet entrepreneurs, just as it is similarly negligent to treat your readers with contempt as appears to be JP policy. Why on earth would I shell out 60-70p a day to follow the New Model Army of citizen journalists armed with nothing more than a licence to espouse their prejudices and peccadilloes.
    Is this New Model Army to have brigade tasked with reporting court cases, council meetings and the like? I very much doubt it, somehow. What are theses cornerstones of our society when compared with a well-shaken photo on an I-phone?
    User-generated-content, citizen journalism – it all sounds deliciously seductive, but so far as it being the new business model for a successful regional press – it is but the grandest of illusions.

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  • March 3, 2015 at 11:34 am
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    I speak as one who jumped the JP ship when a decent offer was on the table. I signed agreement in that offer not to slag JP off and I’ll stick to that. But it is with great sadness and no shock to see this latest master plan. The fine people I worked with and those across JP are paying the price for the mismanagement of others (nothing new there). But this latest move towards citizen journalists is frightening.
    Most of us if not all of us worked hard long hours often for not great pay to get where we were or are, so for Oliver to claim that we should not expect something for that is misguided at best (I’m trying to be kind).
    As journalists we are trained in many different fields. That might not make us experts but it does make us trained.
    How many of these citizens understand contempt, defamation, court orders … the list goes on.
    There are some excellent bloggers out there and some excellent citizen journalists, but there are many armed with their own agenda – a dangerous game in my opinion.
    I miss the writing of course, and I miss the people, but I do not miss that sinking feeling every time one of these ‘brave new dawns’ was announced and there were many.
    To me this is not a brave new future, but rather another step towards the end.
    For those I left behind I hope I’m wrong but they continue to pay a very high price for a deficit they had no part in creating.

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  • March 3, 2015 at 11:37 am
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    I’m sure there will be comments about punctuation etc on my previous post, but posting while travelling in the car is not the best, apologies for the lack of professional skill shown.

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  • March 3, 2015 at 11:58 am
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    I agree Sutler. I think there is a place for UGC, but as dedicated pages within the product. Titles are looking woefully thin these days, with classified advertising practically non-existant. Keep the professionally high standards (if they still exist?) of reporting, feature-writing, columnists, great photography, attractive ads with local focus etc. and ADD to it, not replace it. Do we really want the quality of our local titles to become “quite shocking”? Papers have to include more than news, with this being so readily available, but they should be purchased as a good read, well designed and worth the price.

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  • March 3, 2015 at 2:04 pm
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    The rest of the country is only getting what JP inflicted elsewhere. Papers with no editors, no sports reporters, no photographers. Do they work? I left because I loved my paper too much to be in the middle of the disintegration. I also got fed up with people stopping me in the street to tell me what a pile of crap the paper was. Nothing new in that, of course. But this time they were right! Good luck to all aboard HMS Highfield.

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  • March 3, 2015 at 6:22 pm
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    I can hardly bear to read my own once-respected and highly popular weekly ( peak 22,000 now about 6,000). But I hear they are very pleased at the number of hits on the website. So everything is fine in JP land.

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  • March 3, 2015 at 8:40 pm
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    This is just really, really sad. I worked for a JP title for six years and am lucky to remember the good times. Sadly it started to really go downhill towards the end and even in the few years since I left, the company has just nose-dived. It doesn’t respect and reward talented and hard-working journalists who, as I can see first-hand, are suffering the brunt of seeing the company run into the ground – at a huge cost to their morale, health and well-being. Heart-breaking to watch. Shame on you.

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  • March 3, 2015 at 11:25 pm
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    Oliver’s rant is depressing for real journalists, but he’s probably right.
    We’re living in a society in which Russell Brand is viewed as an intellectual, Jeremy Clarkson an oracle, Piers Morgan a media genius, and Chris Evans a broadcasting legend.
    We’re a long way past the days when true greats like James Cameron, Vincent Mulchrone, Ian Wooldridge and Keith Waterhouse graced our newspapers. We are a nation of morons who wouldn’t know a well-written piece from a bag of chips.
    The days of the slack-jawed smartphone gawpers are upon us – the kind of people who think Kim Kardashian is a goddess and blog peerless prose like ‘Man U r crap, up City, bollox to Van Garl.’
    You’re right, Oliver. UGC from society’s boneheads is probably all we deserve.

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  • March 3, 2015 at 11:43 pm
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    Many years ago, a good friend and colleague assured me he was safe from redundancy because he had worked faithfully for the same company for 40 years with not a single day off sick. He said he had a ‘special relationship’ with the management and was definitely in their good books. He arrived at his desk before 8am every day and rarely left before 8pm.
    When his office was eventually closed to cut costs, the redundancy list went up and his name was on it. Like the rest, he got a month’s pay for every year of service and was waved on his way. I don’t think he ever got over it.
    Anyone who expects favours for being a ‘dedicated employee’ requires an urgent psychological assessment.

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  • March 4, 2015 at 1:21 pm
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    Mr Angry2 – I think Oliver is living on Planet Reality. The point he is making is that we should try chasing the audience where it is now. And where most of it is now is online. Long gone are the days when the audience came to us when they wanted to know what was going on.

    It’s a pity the newspaper business didn’t recognise this when it started happening years ago instead of believing the good old days will go on forever.

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  • March 5, 2015 at 10:04 am
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    JP are impervious to criticism, despite the many newspapers and lives they are in the process of destroying. Quality and customer service are the first principles of any business. I rest my case…

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  • March 5, 2015 at 11:52 am
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    My girlfriend sent a news tip to a JP paper (she is not in PR). Didn’t even get an e mail back let alone a phone call. That’s what JP really thinks of its public. UGC means ungrateful charlatans to her.

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  • March 5, 2015 at 1:00 pm
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    In response to Hacked Off and PRguru above… I agree entirely. My regional JP newspaper has made all the front reception staff redundant, it has also closed its other customer facing office in the town centre. It has made all of its photographers redundant, it has got rid of most of its editorial staff. To place an advert now you have to do it online or ring up a paid for 0207 number – I gave up.

    What we need is an entrepreneur to setup some quality independent digital only newspapers in different regions. Make the newspaper free of charge, send it to everyone every morning, make it a daily, charge yearly for advertising with one advert free in every issue. A set of different advert sizes. No shareholders to please, no useless directors getting paid huge sums. Distribute the profits in the form of bonus’s to the staff. This way the staff will be incentivised – it works for John Lewis and Waitrose, it can be done.

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  • March 5, 2015 at 1:01 pm
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    Brassington …it’s not about chasing the audience it’s about DRIVING the audience.Driving them to digital by cover price rises and serious quality drops. Greedy bosses hope people will abandon print allowing them to cut and maybe eliminate printing and transport costs. The quality of local weekly papers is being drastically eroded with cover price raises so that readers will vote with their feet and convert to digital. Unfortunately for the bosses the level of local online advertising is not anywhere near enough and they have been forced to form a multi company online ad agency to get the national advertisers to fill the massive hole. Digital just isn’t working. Rubbish websites, no local ads, very few photos. Kindle didn’t stop book sales, digital won’t stop print sales but with the quality of local papers in the gutter the bosses could be left with unprofitable websites. Then they will close titles and as executives do, move on to destroy some new unsuspecting business.

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  • March 6, 2015 at 12:45 pm
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    There’s no point in protesting. They don’t know. They don’t care. They dont listen. They treat loyal staff abysmally and will continue to do so.

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  • March 10, 2015 at 3:48 pm
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    Mr Angry2 – you sum it up perfectly.
    Local digital, in reality just recycling stuff already out there, is worse than useless. The public access this at source. Unless you have dedicated journos turning out unique stories you are wasting everyone’s time.
    Hence yet another round of cuts. And the pool is getting smaller…
    It is truly horrible to watch because it has become 100% predictable.

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  • March 13, 2015 at 10:00 am
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    This is very sad news indeed. I know this is a cliché (and not much comfort to the editors concerned), but this is a massive loss for JP, and I think the editors will be better off in the long-term.

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