Regional publisher Newsquest is being urged to review its production system amid union claims that it is fostering a “divisive atmosphere” among staff.
Newsquest reps at the National Union of Journalists claim there is “an inherent flaw” in its production system which is causing “unnecessary pressure and conflict” between the hubs and offices across the country.
The criticism comes after the company made a U-turn on plans to transfer headline-writing from its subbing hubs, based in Newport and Weymouth, to individual local offices.
The plans were set to come into force after some editors within the group claimed to be changing “80pc or more” of headlines written at the hubs, but are now understood to have been shelved.
The Newsquest group chapel of the NUJ says it has had many complaints about the system the company created to transfer editorial production work from its publishing centres to the hubs, which has seen sub-editing staff across the country either moving to work in Newport and Weymouth or facing redundancy.
The chapel further claimed contact between staff at the hubs and their colleagues in the centres is actively discouraged by managers apart from very specific reporting lines, with claims hub staff will have to go through newsdesks to raise a query about a story, often only via email, and not talk to the reporter.
A motion passed by the chapel has now called on the company to review the system.
It reads: “This group chapel expresses deep concern at the lack of communication between regional centres and the Newport hub. This is an inherent flaw in the system established by Newsquest and calls on management to address this urgently to safeguard the quality of the products and the journalism produced. ”
Chris Morley, NUJ Newsquest group coordinator, said: “The creation of the hub system was done in a very heavy handed way by the company and it has done and continues to do little to help smooth the relationship between its staff.
“This has been extremely hard on all those who work incredibly hard with insufficient resources to try to make this work. Newsquest needs to adopt a more caring approach and ease the burden on those at the sharp end of a very difficult process.
“We are calling on the company to recognise the problems that have arisen from its operating model and work with staff to tackle significant problems in a wide-ranging review that will benefit staff but also aid productivity.”
HTFP has asked Newsquest for a comment on the issue.