Six newspapers have been left without content editors and two without reporters due to a regional publisher’s cutbacks, the National Union of Journalists has claimed.
The union made the claims after striking journalists working at Newsquest South London returned to the picket line yesterday in the ongoing dispute over a planned newsroom restructure.
It says two editions of the South London Guardian series – covering Wandsworth and Croydon – are currently without either a reporter or a content editor, and that three more, in Wimbledon, Epsom and Sutton, are without a content editor.
The Surrey Comet, which operates out of the same newsroom in Sutton, is also said to be without a content editor while the News Shopper series in South East London is being staffed by two trainee reporters.
Newsquest has declined to comment on the NUJ’s figures, contained in a press release issued yesterday.
The new structure currently being introduced will see a single pool of 12 reporters working across all the South London titles rather than dedicated staff for each title.
The NUJ says seven reporters have so far resigned in protest at the plans, which would mean up to 11 job losses across the South London titles, which also include the Richmond & Twickenham Times, and the News Shopper series.
The union says it is willing to negotiate with Newsquest, but talks with arbitration service ACAs have so far failed.
A spokesperson for the Newsquest South London NUJ chapel said: “We are still feeling upbeat and up for the fight. It was sad to see our colleagues leave last week, but we know they will continue to support us.
“Former staff members have called by, they still care about the paper and know how strongly we feel about being able to put out quality news, features and sport. That is all we are asking for.”
A Newsquest spokesman previously said: “Obviously, we have a very different perspective than the National Union of Journalists’ PR. We’re trying to build a sustainable future for these free newspapers.
“We’re disappointed that the union still refuses to understand this and the structural changes that are impacting our industry. We will continue to publish.”