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Photographic jobs at risk as fresh editorial cull proposed

Chris HattonA regional publisher has announced photographic cutbacks at a group of daily and weekly titles just days after it was revealed three editors in the same area were at risk.

Newsquest says all six of the photographers it currently employs in Essex are under threat of redundancy as part of proposals which would see it keep “no more” than three full-time equivalent (FTE) positions in that department.

Three full-time photographers based in North Essex and one based in South Essex are at risk as part of the latest restructure, while two part-time South Essex-based photographers are also under threat.

The plans were unveiled days after the announcement that up to six other editorial jobs were under threat across the county, with Colchester Daily Gazette editor James Wills among those at risk.

Newsquest’s Essex division also publishes Basildon, Southend and Castle Point daily The Echo and 11 weekly titles.

An announcement to staff from Newsquest Essex regional editor-in-chief Chris Hatton, pictured above left, which has been seen by HTFP, reads: “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.

“Due to a need to reduce costs and in a continuation of consolidation efficiencies, a review of the photographic department has been carried out and as a result the company is proposing to reduce the number of photographers across Essex to no more than three FTEs which therefore places all photographic employees at risk of redundancy with effect from 31 August 2016.”

Chris told HTFP it would be “inappropriate” to comment further now that formal period of consultation is under way.

Under the earlier set of proposals, the Gazette editor role is at risk along with two weekly editor positions, 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 role and one part-time role will be created, leaving a net loss of 4.4 jobs as a result.

12 comments

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  • August 15, 2016 at 7:43 am
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    My sympathies go those affected and best of luck to all. Just a shame that there is no fat elsewhere in the company (i.e. in areas not directly connected to the production of the journalism that is Newsquest’s raison d’etre and cash-generator) to cut.

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  • August 15, 2016 at 9:26 am
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    Hmm…”consolidation efficiencies”, another weasel-worded euphemism for sacking people.

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  • August 15, 2016 at 10:25 am
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    It doesn’t make sense of course but at least management are now being honest and admitting they are only doing it because the business is dead in the water.

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  • August 15, 2016 at 10:32 am
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    Another week, another swing of the axeman’s blade. My commiserations and best wishes to everyone involved. The level of carnage being inflicted on our industry is appalling. I knew this year would be bad, but the sheer scale of casualties in newsrooms around the UK has exceeded my, or anyone’s, worst nightmares.

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  • August 15, 2016 at 11:09 am
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    Am I wrong or is there a huge imbalance in the news “centres” of people bearing the title “editor” against the pitifully few news reporters and snappers. And judging by the poor quality of a lot of papers they do not seem to be doing much editing.

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  • August 15, 2016 at 12:13 pm
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    When department stores close down there is a big hand-wringing exercise, nostalgia features, demands for an explanation, even government intervention. Yet, not a whimper from the outside world when a fundamental element of local democracy is undermined.

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  • August 15, 2016 at 12:34 pm
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    You are wrong, paperboy. There is only one editor title that counts but the others are helpful in that get people more money.

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  • August 15, 2016 at 2:47 pm
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    What does ‘sustained pressure on the profitability of the business’ actually mean? The last figures I saw (Oct 2015) showed a £70 million profit for Newsquest, so is this simply self-generated in-company pressure to keep shareholders’ pockets lined? That this being done at the expense of staff and quality journalism probably doesn’t even register.

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  • August 15, 2016 at 3:50 pm
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    Paperboy
    Please see my previous comments with regards to editors being an endangered species on various other posts, you’re right
    With so few people left to manage, a greater reliance on supplied ‘ content’ ( ok yah) and more scraping of social media by ‘ curators’ the purpose of still employing so many editors or editorial deputies, assistants call them what you will in this day and age is a luxury companies can no longer afford.

    Couple potential and considerable cost savings there with, as dick says,a top heavy middle management structure of managers managing managers but not actually doing anything and many of the crippling overheads and costs could be cut in one fell swoop

    Meantime still the wholesale dumbing down goes on

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  • August 15, 2016 at 4:40 pm
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    As has been mentioned previously 2016 is shaping up to be a notorious year for the uk regional press,an industry clearly in its death throes, one can only imagine how ravaged it will look by year end and how much if any of it will exist by the end of 2017
    Good luck to those cast aside in this latest and ongoing cull of photographers and editors

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  • August 15, 2016 at 6:39 pm
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    “…six going and one full time and one part time role being created ”
    So that’s quality and quantity gone in one swift move then.

    An ad rep once told me they would always be safe because they’re the ones who” bring the money in that pays your wages ”
    Now with most ad reps underperforming, missing their targets and not ” bringing in the money that pays our wages” with their managers producing even less surely that puts them under threat of redundancy as opposed to photographers and journalists?
    Or is it one rule for one and one for another?
    Or could it be their chiefs shout louder than our Chiefs?
    Maybe a bit of both

    Either way whilst this death of a thousand cuts policy continues to be rolled out across the skilled workers yet deadwood and numerous pointless managerial roles are allowed to remain means the industry will continue its rapid slide into oblivion.

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  • August 15, 2016 at 11:21 pm
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    2016 has indeed been a year of mass slaughter, more so than most of us could imagine with the once considered big players stripping their editorial structures back to the barest of bones and with just the green horns or hangers on left to cover the many positions, roles or areas left vacant by the wholesale off loading of individuals, teams or departments yet I see very little or no cutting back in the advert teams for some reason?

    Many have pointed out the folly of continuing with staffing levels as they are which are wholly out of sync with the level of revenues being brought in which across the board are at all time lows.
    If the commercial teams were subject to the same level of scrutiny and downsizing as the other departments being constantly cut back ,vast cost savings would be made with little or no effect to the business bottom line and quite why ceos and group heads are afraid to make the cuts where they are most needed rather than at editorial level where the dumbing down is all to obvious to see in the poor state of the actual products themselves is a mystery, Improve the products and value and the readers may return, leave things as they are with low revenues against high overheads and it can only continue its rapid downward decline.
    2017 will be a defining year in what remains of the U.K. Regional press and a worrying one for those deemed surplus to requirement suddenly out in the cold along with many others chasing the few job opportunities that will exist while those already installed in positions with independent publishers can sit back and watch it all implode from a distance.

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