A regional publisher has stated its intention to “grow” 13 newly-acquired newspapers after union chiefs urged the company to invest in the titles.
As reported last week, Newsquest has bought independent group NWN Media, which employs around 300 people and publishes papers across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire and Shropshire.
The National Union of Journalists has now urged Newsquest to reassure its new staff that their jobs are safe amid warnings from Welsh politicians of potential job losses.
But Newsquest has responded to the union’s calls by making clear its intention to grow the NWN business.
A Newsquest spokesman told HTFP: “We have bought NWN Media to grow it and to be able to carry on sustaining great local journalism.”
The NWN portfolio includes Wrexham and Flintshire daily The Leader, as well as around a dozen weeklies including the Chester Standard, Oswestry & Border Counties Advertizer, Rhyl Journal and Whitchurch Herald.
In a statement about the takeover, the NUJ said: “Newsquest must invest in its new acquisitions in Wales and North-West England and not, as its record shows, pursue a round of cost cutting without a care for the quality of journalism and the service to local readers.”
Newsquest NUJ group chapel co-ordinator Chris Morley said: “Its record on takeovers has been dubious, such as the ruthless axe taken to the Romanes Group titles just weeks after takeover to the shock and dismay of its journalists.”
John Toner, NUJ Welsh national organiser, added: “Newsquest seems to be buying up newspapers at an alarming rate while making staff redundant. Their brutal treatment last Christmas of the sub-editors employed at Newport is still fresh in the memory in Wales.
“We urge the company to reassure staff that their jobs are secure and that there is no threat to terms and conditions. All editorial staff who are not yet NUJ members should join the union as quickly as possible.”
Llyr Gruffydd, a Plaid Cymru representative for North Wales in the Welsh Assembly, last week expressed concern over the move – citing previous job losses at Newsquest’s Newport production hub as an example of “problems elsewhere in Wales”.
Mr Gruffydd added he hope the takeover would not lead to redundancies, but added it “seems inevitable”.