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Weekly staff move to new office more than 50 miles from old HQ

Lindsay JonesWeekly newspaper reporters have moved to a new office more than 50 miles from their current base following the closure of a sister title.

Staff working on Archant’s Kentish Times series in Ashford are now based at the regional publisher’s East London headquarters in Barking, which is around 56 miles away by road.

The company has also announced that Linsday Jones, pictured, who edits the Romford Recorder, Ilford Recorder and Wanstead and Woodford Recorder, is now additionally editor of the Times series.

The announcement comes after HTFP reported earlier this month that Archant would be closing its Kent on Sunday title, with “a number of redundancies” expected.

Chris Britcher was previously in charge of Kent on Sunday and the Times series, and has worked for Archant for 10 years.

At the time of the KoS closure, Archant chief executive Jeff Henry told staff he would aim to find roles for as many of those affected as possible across other parts of the company’s portfolio, but the publisher has yet to confirm whether Chris is still working for the business.

An announcement to readers published on the Times’s website on Friday states: “As of Monday, please note the contact details for our editorial team will be changing – and you’ll have a new editor.

“All the Kentish Times titles produced by our parent company Archant will see our reporters moving from our current office in Ashford, Kent to Archant’s London based in Barking, Essex.

“It follows the decision to close our award-winning sister title, Kent on Sunday – the last issue of which is published this weekend.

“You’ll still get the same great newspapers – but just make a note of our new details when you want to get in touch. As of Monday, the new editor will be Lindsay Jones.”

Lindsay took over as editor of the Recorder series in February following the departure of long-serving predecessor Chris Carter in a restructure at the end of last year.

Archant has been approached for further comment.

13 comments

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  • November 28, 2017 at 8:55 am
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    Bravo Archant. Keep it local, keep the advertisers and readers on board, show them that you can be a force in your circulation area.
    Or, perhaps not.

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  • November 28, 2017 at 9:14 am
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    How can they maintain contacts 50 miles away from their patch. Crackers.

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  • November 28, 2017 at 9:15 am
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    There was quite an interesting programme on BBC Radio 4 last Wednesday about the local media coverage of of issues at Grenfell Tower before the fire. If I remember correctly one of the reporters working for a London weekly was based in the West Country and didn’t follow up the issues he read about on a Grenfell blog because there were not contact details online.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09fy6g9

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  • November 28, 2017 at 9:20 am
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    To be fair to Archant – and that’s not a phrase I use lightly – the Kentish Times series has been based in east London before, following a move from Sidcup, so it’s not quite the story it seems. The KT circulation area is a lot closer to Barking than Ashford, actually.
    However, that said, what Archant has done to the KT is shameful, frankly. Having worked on the KT as well as at Archant, titles such as the Gravesend Reporter and Dartford Times were market leaders, but have been completely mismanaged from Prospect House. (I would say they are now like parish magazines, but that’s doing parish magazines an enormous injustice.) They had local news, being based in local offices, and were very good for sport and the arts, even in the days of Yellow Advertiser and Independent News Media ownership, but all that has long since been lost in Archant’s headlong rush towards the bland uniformity of all its weekly titles today.

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  • November 28, 2017 at 10:49 am
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    I don’t think that the old offices were in the Kentish Times’ circulation area – a large part of which is in London (Bexley Times, Bromley Times) and not in Kent at all

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  • November 28, 2017 at 10:50 am
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    Erm, Archant hasn’t moved any of the Kentish Times reporters anywhere. Why? Because they no longer work for the company. The very few editorial staff at Kent on Sunday/Kentish Times all left, rather than staying at a publisher which would likely make them redundant again in a few months when it decides the Times series isn’t profitable.
    What a tragedy for regional journalism, and frankly, it was an avoidable one. If people valued editorial standards, rather than obsessing about the little boxes around the articles, maybe the industry would get somewhere – create great content, and advertisers will actively seek you out…..but no, they’d prefer to make cuts to editorial, and then wonder why no one wants to advertise in their once good papers….

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  • November 28, 2017 at 12:17 pm
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    wordsmith, playing devil’s advocate to your comment, how do most reporters today maintain their contacts, even a mile away? It certainly isn’t face-to-face so what difference does 50 miles away make?

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  • November 28, 2017 at 12:46 pm
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    I’d no idea Jenny Éclair moonlighted as a local newspaper editor…

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  • November 28, 2017 at 12:47 pm
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    @Oliver – showing my age. I “retired” early from a full-time job as a reporter because I was fed up with just sitting in a newsroom staring at a computer screen and spending the non-writing time on the phone to “contacts”. Rightly or wrongly the best stories I gathered came from eye to eye contact with others – but that just doesn’t happen any more. When I started in 1965 you knew which pub to find police contacts etc. Nowadays if a police officer was caught having a drink with a hazck they would probably be shot or certainly disciplined. My first chief reporter would take me, the trainee, around to the police and fire stations and other places. We wld attend council mtngs and actually speak to the councillors face to face. etc etc. One of the last papers I worked for the editor said that council mtngs were boring. In many cases he was right but the cl taxpayers want to know where their money jus going – or should do. Ah well – times change but not necessarily for the better.

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  • November 28, 2017 at 6:31 pm
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    I could write an essay about local and regional newspapers and how the combination of mismanagement and the rape of local journalism and local advertising by eBay and Google have left what I consider an essential service (newspapers) in tatters, but I think I would be wasting my time.

    There is no doubt that the consequences have worked against local communities. Councils and other local public authorities (hospitals, police, social services) are no longer held to account. That has led to corruption, nepotism and despotism in many cases. Local residents are reduced to tut-tutting as once again we shell out £50 for a parking fine that will fund the mayor’s annual ball attended by the area’s rich and influential and the expenses of a committee that awards a lucrative building contract to the chairman’s wife’s brother’s construction company.

    Local journalism has been replaced by public relations officers, with the result that the public are fed unchallenged positive spin stories.

    Not only have we lost great reporting, but the digital era has robbed us of great photographers and photo-journalists.

    I don’t know what can be done to redress the balance. Clearly, local newspapers have always been run as a business. And a business has to return a profit. Traditionally, local newspapers’ bread and butter revenue has come from advertising – classifieds, motoring, houses and public notices. These sources have all but gone to Google and eBay.

    It was interesting to note that when the BBC launched local radio stations, these were funded by local councils, not the BBC.

    I wonder if local authorities could fund via precept local journalism on a strictly apolitical basis, with editors allowed to be fiercely independent? I know it could be a minefield, but if the BBC can be independent of Government, why cannot local newspapers be independent of local authority control? Of course there will be those who will seek to exercise control or remove an editor they dislike, but the BBC seems to manage, if not always unscathed.

    An alternative method could be to use crowdfunding or a site like patreon to support a local newspaper.

    This big problem is of course how many people would be willing to pay to see local news – particularly if it publishes adverse publicity about them or their businesses. We all want to know who’s not paid their TV licence fee or if the next door neighbour has been fined for drink driving – or if the local curry house has been fined for having cockroaches running around their kitchen floor – but not if it’s us or our own business.

    I don’t know much about Archant. They may or may not be asset stripping pariahs. But it seems to me that their interest is the bottom line and not providing an essential public service. Hence, centralising editorial staff and closing offices in town centres is a no-brainer.

    I once had the pleasure of knowing a feared but revered news editor called Barry MacSweeney whose mantra was: There is no substitute for local knowledge.

    I would add there is no substitute for local newspapers. Alas, it may be too late.

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  • November 29, 2017 at 10:28 am
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    @ Eddie
    You’re right up to a point;
    “ …..with editors allowed to be fiercely independent ”
    The number of political party wraps thinly disguised as the front covers of free papers in the run up to the general election proved yet again the new style ‘ editors’ are at the beck and call of the commercial managers, who cast all thoughts of political impartiality aside when the lure of easy money from a four page wrap is dangled and they’re told to run with it, then they come out and laughingly claim their paper is apolitical, so no they can’t be trusted on that one

    On the subject of crowd funding, certainly not, publishers are businesses not charities, so why should the public be expected to chip in to fund them? If they can’t manage their once profitable businesses when paying big bonus’s and reaping the rewards of little or no competition was the norm don’t expect the public to bale them out now, leave the provision of s good local news and ad service it to the many new. independent publishers thriving by doing exactly what archant and the like no longer do

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  • November 29, 2017 at 12:29 pm
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    Oh dear, Ms Jones doesn’t look exactly delighted to be adding this additional series of titles to her editorial remit does she?
    No quote either?
    Telling

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  • November 29, 2017 at 12:49 pm
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    Eddie, to fair to local authorities, they already fund local newspapers to the tune of millions each year via public notices. I don’t think any independently-owned hyperlocals, or the public, would be too happy about more council taxpayers’ money being pumped into local newspapers.

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