Six 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:
- Jason Gibbins, currently editor of the Banbury Guardian;
- Roger Hawes, editor of the Bucks Herald, Bucks Advertiser and Hemel Hempstead Gazette;
- Lynn Hughes, of the Luton News and Biggleswade Chronicle;
- Chris Lillington, of the Leamington Spa Courier and Rugby Advertiser;
- Olga Norford, of the Milton Keynes Citizen and Bedford Times & Citizen; and
- Neil Pickford, of the Northamptonshire Telegraph and Harborough Mail.
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.”