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Union calls for clarification over future of newspapers

nujlogoThe National Union of Journalists is seeking urgent talks over plans by regional publisher Johnston Press to buy cut-price national daily the i.

As reported earlier today, JP is in “late stage” talks with i owner ESI Media over a £24m bid to buy the title, which sells 275,000 copies each day.

But the union says its regional reps have expressed “astonishment” at the proposed deal in the light of current plans by JP to axe up to 100 jobs across its 200-plus regional titles.

It is also concerned that the deal will mean the closure of the Independent and Independent on Sunday print editions, with the 30-year-old titles going online-only.

Johnston Press and i owner ESI Media confirmed the talks in separate statements issued this morning.

According to the JP statement, the deal would make it the fourth largest newspaper publisher in the UK with a combined circulation of 600,000 copiues daily, as well as giving it increased reach into the national advertising market.

However the NUJ said in a press release that reps working on JP’s regional titles “were astonished that JP, which has announced job losses and title closures across the group, said it has £24m to pay for the deal.

“Many of the staff are suffering from increased workloads as vacancies have not been filled. Latest figures show that JP’s net debt stands at £184.6m,” the release said.

Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, added: “The announcement and ensuing speculation is creating a huge amount of uncertainty. Johnston Press and the Lebedevs are just treating staff as pawns in a game played behind closed doors.

“They should step up and give immediate guarantees on jobs, terms; explain what this deal means and what JP is actually buying. The closure of the Independent print titles would be a disaster not only for those working on the newspapers but the whole UK media landscape.

The i’s content comes from Independent journalists and is successful as part of the whole because of its experienced journalists who have stuck with the titles through thick and thin. How can you separate that out?

“JP staff are currently facing major job cuts and freezes. There will be anger about how the company squares their failure to invest locally with this announcement. Their record doesn’t bode well for the future of the i.”

15 comments

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  • February 11, 2016 at 2:16 pm
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    I’m a supporter of a strong and sensible NUJ, but what planet are they on this time?

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  • February 11, 2016 at 4:23 pm
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    Begs the question about what JP think of local papers

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  • February 11, 2016 at 4:23 pm
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    Supporting a “strong and sensible” NUJ is fine….but when did we last (or even ever) have one?

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  • February 11, 2016 at 4:34 pm
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    Why on earth would either the Independent or JP feel the need to talk to the NUJ about this? Peas rattling in an empty can.

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  • February 11, 2016 at 5:59 pm
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    Usual NUJ view of life.
    Companies should spend all they possibly can , preferably on more staff to do less, up to the point where they go pop as per Guardian in due course.
    No concept of the fact that a combined audience offering might actually save a few of the regionals from the inevitable.
    Dear NUJ, the core reasons for purchase and profitability of local papers ie Sits Vac , Property and Motors have gone, whilst they were there companies indulged themselves in the belief that people were still interested in the local council – they are not, earnest left wingers may be but they don’t buy enough papers. Do get real and stop looking for confrontation around every corner. Some employers might actually take you seriously if you stopped sounding like grumpy undergraduates.

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  • February 12, 2016 at 8:26 am
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    How is it remotely Left-wing to try to protect people’s jobs. Mortgages need paying and kids need feeding. What planet are these “I’m all right Jack” people on?

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  • February 12, 2016 at 9:27 am
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    The NUJ have had a bad time of it recently.

    My husband and I were members for many years, but we both chucked our cards in when the organisation seemed to go quite potty about five or six years ago. Things haven’t changed.

    I have a suggestion though: If the NUJ would like to save some face and recover some respectability, why not expand this JP question and, instead, hold a summit aimed at addressing the same issue to all regional newspaper groups in the UK?

    Ask them all for some clarification of the future.

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  • February 12, 2016 at 9:46 am
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    I’m not a supporter of the NUJ, but they are showing exactly the same sort of concern (dappled with a generous sprinkling of disbelief) that other people have shown on another thread on the same subject. So, if contributors pontificate on something, that’s fine. If the NUJ does it, they’re lefties who sound like grumpy undergraduates.
    That doesn’t seem logical, does it?

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  • February 12, 2016 at 10:12 am
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    Agree, Echo. I bet the anti-NUJers on here only read stories with NUJ in the headline, so that they can then attack the NUJ. If this isn’t a subject for a trade union, I don’t know what is. Go for it, NUJ

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  • February 12, 2016 at 10:26 am
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    Was a member of the NUJ most of my 50-year working life (did not have much choice in earlier days) but even as a young hack thought the initials stood for Naff Union of Jokers. The turning point in the 1980s was when we were “told” during a dispute to go into work, sit at our desks and do nothing. Result: The same increase that had been offered 2 months before and an overall loss of income taking into account the loss of pay during the 2 months.

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  • February 12, 2016 at 12:30 pm
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    NUJ members are prepared to challenge the greed, vanity and sheer cluelessness of newspaper proprietors like JP. It seems certain individuals are trampling over the careers of hard-working journalists to boost their own flagging credibility and add a bit of glossy prestige to their CVs, leaving a regional industry decimated in their wake. You can either roll over and let that happen, like some posters here, or back the NUJ in fighting to protect journalists’ jobs.

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  • February 12, 2016 at 3:19 pm
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    It is easy to see why people don’t want to get involved with running trade unions. Some complain when they don’t do anything while others still complain when they do.
    In my 40+ years as a member, the people who moan most about the NUJ are generally those who would never dream of doing a hand’s stir to improve it and are happy to make audible noises off.

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  • February 12, 2016 at 3:39 pm
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    Quite bizarre that so many think that local news was the core of regional newspaper profitability.

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  • February 12, 2016 at 3:43 pm
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    Loving your (no doubt ironic) use of the past tense, there, Punter. Local news is now the sole USP of regional newspapers! And the NUJ is the sole defender of jobs in what’s left of the industry.

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  • February 14, 2016 at 7:12 pm
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    “Union calls for clarification over future of newspapers”

    That’s not hard to answer; there isn’t one

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