Regional publisher Newsquest has announced plans to axe three editor posts Essex, including the Colchester Daily Gazette’s James Wills, left, along with three other editorial roles.
The decision comes after less than two years after the roles of Gazette editor and editor of Basildon-based daily The Echo were split in October 2014 following the departure of Colin Channon, who had been responsible for both titles.
The two positions were previously merged for the first time under then editor Martin McNeil in 2009.
Others whose posts are at risk include the editors of Newsquest’s North Essex and Mid-Essex weeklies, along with an assistant editor covering both the Gazette and the Essex County Standard, a Colchester-based content editor and a sport content manager responsible for both the Gazette and the Echo.
However one new full-time and one part-time role are due to be created, meaning a net loss of 4.4 jobs overall.
The plans will see the creation a new North Essex head of content role, reporting to Echo editor and regional editor-in-chief Chris Hatton, as well as a new part-time position of content producer responsible for the Tiptree Tribune.
As well as the Gazette and Echo, other titles thought to be affected by the move include the Harwich and Manningtree Standard, Clacton Gazette, Braintree and Witham Times, Brentwood Weekly News and Chelmsford Weekly News.
In an announcement to staff, which has been seen by HTFP, Newsquest Essex regional editor-in-chief Chris Hatton said: “The company continues to face difficult trading conditions with sustained pressure on the profitability of the business.
“The company continues to look at all functions and disciplines across the business and where appropriate implement reorganisations or consolidations of functions so as to deliver efficiencies and reduce costs.”
He added the proposals had been made after a review of the group’s editorial department which had been undertaken due to “a need to reduce costs and in a continuation of consolidation efficiencies.”
The move mirrors other recent Newsquest changes which have seen editors taking charge of multiple titles, for instance the Swindon Advertiser and Oxford Mail, which now come under a single editor in Gary Lawrence, and The Press, York and Telegraph and Argus, Bradford, both overseen by Perry Austin-Clarke.
Chris took on the editorship of The Echo after Colin’s departure, having previously served as his deputy in Basildon.
James had been editor of the Essex County Standard and head of content for the Daily Gazette prior to his promotion.
A formal consultation is now being held on the proposals, which will run until 31 August.
Chris told HTFP it would be “inappropriate” to comment further now that the consultation period is under way.