Union chiefs have warned of a newspaper office “wipe-out” after the closure of a weekly’s headquarters which has left journalists facing a 20 mile commute to work.
HTFP reported earlier this week that the Free Press will be based away from Doncaster for the first time since it was founded more than 90 years ago after Johnston Press decided to close its Printing Office Street base.
Staff on the title are being given the option of working from home or commuting to JP offices in Sheffield, more than 20 miles away, or Leeds, more than 30 miles away.
Chris Morley, Northern & Midlands organiser for the NUJ, said: “Journalists moved in to their existing office only three years ago, so the announcement is a sudden and bewildering blow. It sends out a terrible message to the people of Doncaster, a proud and large community, that Johnston Press is no longer concerned enough in its fortunes to have a physical presence there.
“Individual journalists may remain on patch, perhaps working from home, but it does not make up for the fact that the company has no physical presence there after more than a century of being central to the town.
“Nothing has been done to ask the good people of Doncaster what they think of this idea and I challenge Johnston Press to have the courage of its convictions and carry out its own survey about closure of the office.
“If it can happen to Doncaster, then what other towns and cities that Johnston Press titles are also in danger of suffering an office wipe-out?”
A Johnston Press spokeswoman said: “In line with Johnston Press’ continuing search for operational efficiency, the office in Doncaster closed on Friday. This office was primarily used by the communities team which works across Yorkshire.
“There were no job losses: having been given the choice to work from other offices nearer to their homes, they are now either working from home or from the Sheffield office where the content team for South Yorkshire is based.
“They are still very much out and about in the Doncaster area, and the Doncaster Free Press continues to serve its local community as it has done for the last 92 years.”