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Newspaper to be based off patch after 90 years in town

Journalists are facing a commute of more than 20 miles off patch after their newspaper’s town centre offices closed on Friday.

Johnston Press has vacated the headquarters of the Doncaster Free Press, meaning the paper will be based away from the Yorkshire town for the first time since it was founded more than 90 years ago.

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.

JP revealed in August that Sheffield daily The Star is due to move to a new HQ at to The Balance, a modern office block on Pinfold Street in the city centre, but it has said nothing publicly about the Free Press move.

Printing Office Street, where the Free Press had been based since 2014

Printing Office Street, where the Free Press had been based since 2014

The Star’s offices at Telegraph House on York Street, which it has occupied for decades, have been sold to property company Toscafield.

Free Press staff will also be able to based themselves in Leeds, more than 30 miles away from Doncaster.

The Free Press had been based at its Printing Office Street home since 2014.

It previously operated from offices at Sunny Bar, which had housed the paper since it was founded by printer Dickie Crowther in June 1925 under the title Doncaster Free Press and Courier of Coming Events.

Johnston Press has so far not responded to requests for a comment on the move.

However posting on Twitter about the move on Friday, Free Press journalist Darren Burke said: “End of an era today, farewell Doncaster, hello Sheffield (permanent basis)!”

10 comments

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  • October 2, 2017 at 9:26 am
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    Forgive me if I am being naive but even in these days of technology readers still like to think their local newspaper is based in their local town – not 20 miles away which, psychologically for some, may as well be a million miles away. Let’s see the circulation drop even further and blame it on everything but logic.

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  • October 2, 2017 at 10:03 am
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    With a circulation of around 600 copies..surely this was inevitable?

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  • October 2, 2017 at 11:22 am
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    I edited the Free Press in the Sunny Bar days and we reached just over 38,000 weekly sale to top the Barnsley Chronicle as the biggest selling weekly newspaper in Yorkshire – yes a long time ago. News-gathering from “remote” sites may work and I am prepared to be persuaded. But this is abdication of the best principles of journalism on a grand scale. I worked at the Sheffield Star and know it takes a long time to get from Sheffield, Leeds (or Bangkok where the next JPlanet Editor will be based) to a news call in Doncaster – so let JP leave news-gathering to the hit and run, data-linking, unaccountable, mobile-phone touters. Times, revenues and technologies change but clearly I have not. Glad I represented Doncaster and its people when I could and did.

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  • October 2, 2017 at 8:25 pm
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    If the circulation is only around 600 as Old Snapper would have us believe then why is JP continuing with it. Don’t want to see any newspaper die out but in this digital age it is inevitable. But how much is JP paying for the move to maintain a paper that sells less than 1,000 copies.

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  • October 2, 2017 at 9:36 pm
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    You were a fair, decent, skilled and committed editor Richard.
    You wouldn’t last a week in JP’s brave new world of management.

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  • October 3, 2017 at 10:36 am
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    I think Old Snapper is thinking of the Doncaster Star, rather than the DFP. I hope so anyway!

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  • October 3, 2017 at 12:51 pm
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    Old snapper fails the first rule of journalism…accuracy.
    In other words get your facts straight.
    Circulation has dropped dramatically since the good old days under Richard Tear (and that excellent page designer Peter Lee) but I think it is still around 10,000.
    Whatever happened to ‘life is local’?
    Dickie Crowther, old man Brackenbury and Henry Leonard Peet will be turning in their graves.

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  • October 3, 2017 at 3:54 pm
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    I wonder if the “you may work from home” option is an attempt to circumvent claims of redundancy. Journalists at the Doncaster Free Press are almost certainly employees of South Yorkshire Newspapers Ltd not of JP (JP would agree; see the link below from 2010). The offices in Sheffield I would expect to be the offices of Sheffield Newspapers Ltd. Surely even if there is a mobility clause in the Free Press journalists’ contracts of employment with South Yorkshire Newspapers it would not allow that company to move its employees to the offices of a separate company that wasn’t a subsidiary. For some people a 20 mile commute might warrant a redundancy claim. If they do want to work from home instead I trust they are being provided with a work computer, business email account, subsidised internet connection and telephone costs, allowance for heating and lighting etc. etc. etc. (but then I have too much trust).

    JP says journalists are not its employees: http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/nuj-to-ask-johnston-press-journalists-to-vote-again-on-group-wide-strike-action/

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  • October 3, 2017 at 5:20 pm
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    Thirty years on Peter Lee – what is they say about old soldiers never die, they just fade away? Every ship needs a captain, but every captain needs a crew. Thank you for helping me to keep the ship afloat and the praise and you are right, I would not have lasted thirty minutes!

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  • October 4, 2017 at 7:02 pm
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    I lasted somewhat longer than a week under JP in Doncaster, but the writing was on the wall in 2009 when the MD said to me: “Some people don’t think that individual newspapers need an Editor – what do YOU think?”

    I replied: “How much are we talking then . . . ?

    “It was only thanks to Richard that I joined the DFP – and thanks to Pete Lee, Dave Crossland and the rest of a fantastic bunch that I lasted as long as I did.

    I am afraid it seems to be RIP DFP – how could they have got it so wrong? They have killed a real cash-cow through rank stupidity and short-sightedness. Thank God I saw the light, grabbed the money and learned to smile again.

    That said, I grieve for what was a great publication and miss the halcyon days so much that I still dream about it!!

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