AddThis SmartLayers

Six jobs at risk at regional publisher’s design hub

Six jobs are set to go at a regional publisher’s design hub with more of its local newspaper titles set to move to full templating.

Johnston Press has told staff that during 2018, a number of its titles will become fully templated, with the exception of their front page designs.

As a result, the equivalent of six full-time roles have been put at risk at its Yorkshire design hub, which is based in Sheffield and Leeds.

The company’s sister design hub at Peterborough is unaffacted, but staff there have been given the option of applying for voluntary redundancy.

designhubAs well as designing pages, the hub is responsible for producing graphics on topical issues for use across JP titles.

In addition to the reduction in workload at the hub arising from the rollout of templating, an agreement with Iliffe Media to continue to design some of its East of England titles is due to come to an end.

The agreement related to the 13 former JP titles sold to Iliffe in January, which included the Bury Free Press, Grantham Journal, Lynn News and Newmarket Journal.

News of the cutbacks was contained in a lengthy memo about the state of the industry distributed to staff by Tim Robinson, the company’s group editorial design director, although it is not clear if he also wrote it.

It read: “As you will be aware, the media industry continues to face challenges with our audiences migrating to digital products, which yield lower revenues than our newspapers and an ever-accelerating trend for advertisers going to digital platforms.

“The structural changes we have seen have been compounded by the likes of Google and Facebook who are targeting our ad revenues, forcing us to constantly respond to those challenges.

“In some respects the ‘easy’ option would be to close those titles which are not profitable now and continue that process going forward.”

“We are acutely aware of the effect these options would have on our employees and the communities our newspapers serve, who often rely on them, and associated digital products, as their only source of trusted local news. And so we are trying to find alternatives which this restructure is addressing.”

The memo continues: “We have had to look at how we can help to publish titles in the most efficient way to ensure our smallest papers remain viable while at the same time deploying our staff on those titles which continue to make a larger contribution to the company’s revenues.

“As a result, with the exception of front page design, a number of our titles will become fully templated. In addition. you will also be aware that in May 2018 we will cease to work on titles which transferred to Iliffe in January this year and this will see a further reduction of pages going through the hub each week.

“These changes to the way we produce our titles will mean a reduction of around 6fte in the editorial staff required. As a result we will need to review working patterns of the design hub, the impact of which will be discussed throughout the forthcoming consultation period.

“The proposed changes mean we will be reorganising the Sheffield/Leeds team. The Peterborough team is unaffected. However, it is important to note that if any member of the Peterborough team wish to explore VR or the options contained in this pack, we will consider them.”

A Johnston Press spokesman said: “We continue to assess the way we produce our smallest titles, including the way they are designed. We have also fulfilled our agreement with Iliffe Media to design pages for a set period following their acquisition of thirteen titles.

“Sadly, as a result of this, we have now started a voluntary redundancy consultation process with up to six designers. “


You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • December 1, 2017 at 10:50 am

    And what if nobody opts for voluntary redundancy? No prizes for guessing the answer; six more highly qualified JP members thrown onto an ever-growing scrapheap. Six more sacrificial victims, consumed upon the pyre of JP’s increasingly desperate attempts to feed an out-of-control debt monster created by greedy, short-sighted bosses.

    And so another bunch of titles are reduced to sterile, lifeless, templated rags, that nobody will buy, given the appalling lack of quality control. Soon to be closed down entirely, and likely the few-remaining luckless journalists who work upon them hurled onto the pyre, along with their designer colleagues.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(51)
  • December 1, 2017 at 11:35 am

    The appeal of any local paper was just that, it’s localness, and that goes for how the paper looked as much as what’s written within it,now with these dull sterile templated pages cloning out weekly papers who have lost their markets and main revenue sources, more templated boxes in pages will simply hasten the decline.
    It’s almost as if the content chiefs want to eradicate what few readers remain as quickly as possible so are continuing down the cheap and cheerless page templating route. Surely the huge losses in copy sales and poor way local papers are viewed would suggest a return to quality hyper local content and styling was in order, but I guess when you’re out of ideas and realise originality comes at a price you’ll opt for school project style desk top page planning because it’s cheap to produce and these days that’s the deciding factor.

    Good wishes to the lucky ones who’ll soon be leaving the ships graveyard that is the country’s regional press

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(52)
  • December 1, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    I hate to see any job losses in what was once my industry but I have to disagree that the design of a newspaper is what gives it a local feel. My local paper (JP) is poor not because the design is bland, but the content is so dreary.

    All newspapers are redesigned overtime. I used to be a sub-editor (remember those!) and in truth the design of local newspapers has always been a secondary consideration and, if we’re being honest, not all that great.
    I think commentators like Norridge (above) who I see very often here and seldom with anything constructive to say, tend to seize on any news and use it to ridicule the decision making.

    But what is conspicuous by its absence from people like Norridge is any alternative. They are very clear the management are fools, but when it comes to a solution, comes there none.

    The more fanciful commentators on HTFP seem to believe that if only they were in charge they would have been able to stem the tide of eroding revenues that has inflicted every single newspaper group in the developed world since the rise of the internet.

    It really is such a tragedy that they never got their chance to let their other-worldly genius shine and save local media for us all!

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(28)
  • December 1, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Seems like I’ve hit a raw nerve with Jimmy Mac.
    Maybe he missed my point about “…a return to quality hyper local content and styling was in order..”
    Whilst he has a view about the look and design of the pages,he chooses to ignore the main point about hyper local content.

    Too much damage has been done to this once proud industry through a series of ill thought out,get rich quick/ do it on the cheap policies which have resulted in job losses, closures and redundancies with good staff finding themselves facing Christmas and the new year jobless, yet those who’ve sat back and ignored the warning signs and concerns which many,including myself,voiced at the time, live to cause havoc another day, they are the ones to ask for solutions to the problems which their arrogance,complacency and short sightedness has caused.
    I don’t have any other solution to a situation that in my view is now beyond salvation with the irrecoverable loss of both the readership and advertising markets other than to wish success to those new independent publishers thriving across the country doing all the things many no longer feel is of value,notably investing in the best staff and focusing on reporting and publishing what’s important to the lives of the people in their communities,real,valid issues which matter to local people,these publications have become the trusted voice of the communities they serve and are becoming the future of hyper local community news publishing.
    So jimmy, best address your question to those who got themselves into this mess for their solutions as to how to get out of it , or are more job cuts, redundancies and closures their only answer?

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(37)
  • December 2, 2017 at 10:43 am

    There are many reasons why newspaper sales are falling; but one of them may be that a lot of people are less community minded now,than they were many years ago.
    Simply put,many are only concerned with themselves and their immediate lifestyles,and have little interest in what may or may not be happening around them; as long as they can pay their bills and holiday abroad and purchase the latest technology.
    Its all rather sad.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(15)
  • December 2, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    So, fellow commentators, just what would you do faced with this perfect storm? Remember, you have no money available to invest and the papers are unsustainable without surgery.
    With the benefit of hindsight, the decisions of the past may not have been great. However, most were applauded at the time. But just moaning won’t get anyone anywhere.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(2)
  • December 3, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    One of the advantages of sites such as HTFP is in giving an opportunity to voice an opinion, make an observation, share a view or comment on an issue affecting the country’s regional press and the individuals working in it,luxuries often not afforded in the workplace where any form of alternate view is usually seen as being negative, or any written view is the work of ‘bitter key board warriors’ so the comments made by Jimmy Mac about Norridge not having the solution to a situation makes me wonder if JimmyMac is from higher up the editorial food chain than he’d like us to believe?
    Yes falling revenues are the big concern due to the many other options available to access instant news and for free but the situation has been hastened by publishers convincing themselves this was a passing storm and they would survive no matter what, failure to invest in their newspapers and retaining the best staff to produce the most relevant unique local content with a view of retaining a potential falling readership simply accelerated the losses and has reached the tipping point where,it would appear, offloading staff and closing down unprofitable ( read; under invested) publications is the last throw of the dice.
    Those new local publishers who have emerged and are providing a back to basics news and advertising service are picking up readers and commercial revenue as a result.
    JimmyMac, an ex sub apparently but one who missed Norridges point about a much needed return to hyper local reportage,doesn’t appear to share the same frustrations or concerns as many on here as more and more closures and cutbacks are announced and offers no solution himself.
    Interestingly I haven’t noticed any comments on other HTFP posts from him,good bad or otherwise, so maybe a sensitive nerve around this particular issue was indeed hit.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(24)
  • December 4, 2017 at 7:54 am

    I disagree with the comment that readers and advertisers are migrating to digital products.
    Those who used to buy a payer no longer need to as the news is on line instant and free ,whilst advertisers in the main, and from speaking to local and regional business people, are using their own social media sites, new local publishers who target a very local audience or just cutting out press advertising altogether with no adverse effect on their business but seeing unresponsive press advertising spend as a saving.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(12)
  • December 4, 2017 at 9:23 am

    Voice of reason . decisions “applauded at time”. ???
    Like paying far too much for the Scotsman, spending £700,000 plus on a redesign by Spaniards that should have been in house, ruining design with hubs employing green kids drawing silly boxes. We couldn’t stop clapping. Hubs kill papers.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(23)
  • December 4, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    I agree with old snapper. Many people do not live AND work in the same town. They are often not interested in joining local organisations. Just look around at the old grey hairs when you go to gatherings. That and the fact that my weekly paper now costs £1.55 and although it has the name of the town on the front page masthead it “devotes” only about 4/5 of the 90 plus pages to the town with the rest being about a town some miles away which, for many residents, may as well be on the other side of the moon.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(8)