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Production jobs at risk as post-buyout shake-up continues

Reading Chronicle tow coveredUp to seven jobs are at risk after a regional publisher announced plans to dissolve the production department of a company it recently acquired.

Newsquest has revealed plans to transfer work currently undertaken by production staff in Reading, following the company’s purchase of the Berkshire Media Group and its owner Romanes Media Group in May.

It is proposed that all roles within the department will be made redundant, with work being outsourced from Berkshire to India, as well as the company’s production hubs in Southampton and Newport.

A new media support officer role, to be based in Berkshire, may be created as part of the plans. Titles affected include the Reading Chronicle and Slough Observer.

An 11-day consultation period with staff has now begun, with a final announcement scheduled for Monday 27 July.

Staff at the Romanes Media Group office in Clydebank, Scotland, have also been told Newsquest is reviewing “all areas of the company”, while new computer systems and processes are introduced, with an update is expected later this summer.

The latest announcement follows a management restructure since the acquisition, which has seen Southern Daily Echo editor Ian Murray assume editorial oversight of six titles in Berkshire.

Keith McIntyre, the former managing director of BMG, has left the company along with former RMG finance director Graham Faulds.

A memo sent to staff by operations director Tina Wright, which has been seen by HTFP, reads: “In order to improve operational efficiency within the Berkshire production business and reduce costs, we are notifying you of our proposal to dissolve our production function from its regional base. This proposal affects you all in that we propose to outsource the production of adverts and move to a centralised function.

“In the event that the production function does transfer out of Berkshire, the work you currently produce will be picked up externally in India and internally within Southampton and Newport, therefore the company is proposing to make your roles redundant.

“As a result of this proposal a new role of media support officer may be developed to be based in Berkshire. I will notify you should this be created as to what this will entail and you will be able to apply.”

She added: “I would like to thank everyone in anticipation for their patience and understanding whilst we consider the proposed restructure.”

21 comments

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  • July 16, 2015 at 7:48 am
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    Gutting news for those involved directly, and those remaining that have to come to terms with new ways of working, (if what I hear from remaining JP colleagues is anything to go by). To lose a job you love is bad enough, but to know your company is sending your work abroad kicks the boot in.

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  • July 16, 2015 at 7:52 am
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    It was only a matter of time. You havr to feel sorry for those affected.

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  • July 16, 2015 at 9:13 am
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    There are only two certainties in life: Death and newspaper redundancies.
    Hope the people affected find new and rewarding careers.

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  • July 16, 2015 at 9:45 am
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    My heart goes out to the “victims” but it was only a matter of time. I’m afraid Newsquest will want to make some profit from the papers (which is fair enough) but with hardly anyone buying them, pretty awful websites and, it has to be said, not great content to attract readers, the only way left is to get rid of staff.
    I’d suspect this is merely the beginning…

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  • July 16, 2015 at 10:01 am
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    Tina’s all heart, isn’t she? Welcome to Newquest…

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  • July 16, 2015 at 10:04 am
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    Gutted for all those who have been “dissolved” here. Who writes these things?

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  • July 16, 2015 at 10:09 am
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    Outsourcing design of ads, pages and products to low-cost offshore locations has been in vogue for years, so I guess it was inevitable that such a devoted cost-cutting business as JP would follow.
    I wonder though if they’ve ever considered oursourcing elements of their expensive UK-based management structure to equally well-qualified and experienced executives based in such locations.

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  • July 16, 2015 at 10:38 am
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    What a bonkers industry the regional media is!
    You can slave away for your master’s degree in journalism at some university, then you get a job on a local paper and are treated like a part-time shelf stacker at some supermarket..here today, gone tomorrow.
    No matter how good you are at the job, or loyal, there’ s absolutely no employment security anywhere. The axe comes right out of the blue and it’s administered with such obvious insincerity.
    Media support officer indeed! I bet they won’t be reporting their India outsourcing in the local news columns.
    The saddest part is that journalists and other media staff, intelligent and dedicated people, are so powerless to stop this destruction.
    The day must surely come when the regional media is protected by some kind of charter status perhaps similar to that of the BBC.
    To those who scoff at the idea, just ask yourselves: What have you got to keep at bay these predators who are sucking at the lifeblood of journalism, communities, and democracy itself?

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  • July 16, 2015 at 10:47 am
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    I’ve rewritten the first par’ so that it more accurately reflects reality.

    “Six people are being made redundant after a regional ‘publisher’ announced its intention to scrap the production department of a company it recently gobbled up.”

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  • July 16, 2015 at 10:49 am
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    Apart from the poor English in Tina Wright’s memo, a nod to her for actually STATING: “…and reduce costs,…”.
    I expect her position will be at peril soon :o(

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  • July 16, 2015 at 10:53 am
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    Ian: This is NQ, not JP, but everything else is word-perfect. They both the same. Meanwhile, the former owners of the Romanes Media Group are laughing all the way to the bank (to coin a phrase)

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  • July 16, 2015 at 12:03 pm
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    Re “I would like to thank everyone in anticipation for their patience and understanding whilst we consider the proposed restructure.”

    Anticipation is generally a feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen in the near future.
    But then many of these dire announcements are given the “how exciting” fanfare, as in: “Guess what, we’re closing the newspaper in an exciting business development initiative.”
    Or it can be to do something in advance of an expected outcome, (in this case a P45) so perhaps it’s Newsquest ‘anticipating’ patience and understanding, though goodness knows why employees chucked in the skip should demonstrate such benevolent attributes. .

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  • July 16, 2015 at 12:46 pm
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    As a former journo and resident of Reading, I have to say it’s sad that you can walk anywhere in the town and not know that it has a newspaper at all. No newspaper bills, hardly any town centre newsagent seems to stock the Chronicle. It’s a bit strange really.

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  • July 16, 2015 at 2:31 pm
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    As an ex-Romanes journo at Clydebank, nothing surprises me. It was clear that the powers-that-be weren’t interested in the papers — just in squeezing out every last penny until the inevitable buy-out, then it would be trebles all round. Some good people there but the once-proud papers are absolutely dreadful.

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  • July 16, 2015 at 2:43 pm
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    Former journo: really? I never have that problem there! Billboards, yes! But the art of good billboard writing has gone and now it’s 140 characters stating: ‘Read today’s Blagtown Gazette!’ With a mugshot of the news editor

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  • July 17, 2015 at 9:05 am
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    The Chron is my old paper. Awful news. Glad I got out when I did.

    (Tina Wright has been at BMG since it was formed, by the way, she’s not a Newsquest flunkie)

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  • July 17, 2015 at 9:22 am
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    To be honest I’m not surprised.

    The Chronicle’s web content is absolutely terrible and people say they want print media but never actually read it.

    The future is online: Get Reading seem to have transferred over well and the number of online hyperlocals doing well in Reading is positive.

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  • July 20, 2015 at 1:08 pm
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    So local production staff are ‘dissolved’ (what are they using: acid?) while their work is sent abroad to people who have no idea of the area it covers and who may or may not speak adequate English. Great idea. Can’t think why nobody else has thought of it….oh, oh.

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  • July 23, 2015 at 4:57 pm
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    India. Ah! JP had happy experiences there. Ask their troops for opinions (not managers, they are clueless clones). Watch this space.

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