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Editor of seven weeklies among the 41 under threat in Reach shake-up

Tim LethabyThe editor of seven weekly newspapers is among the 41 journalists whose jobs are under threat in a regional publisher’s nationwide restructure, it has emerged.

HTFP understands Tim Lethaby, who edits Reach plc titles in Somerset, has had his position placed at risk of redundancy after the company announced an overhaul of its print production operation last week.

Tim, pictured, has held his role since replacing Bede Magowan in January 2017, and currently oversees the Western Gazette, Somerset Guardian, Frome Standard and Mid Somerset Series, which includes the Central Somerset Gazette, Cheddar Valley Gazette, Wells Journal and Shepton Mallet Journal.

He was previously chief sub-editor at the Somerset titles before moving to edit Blackmore Vale Magazine in 2014.

HTFP revealed last week that up to six roles are set to be lost at Reach’s seven Midlands dailies – the Birmingham Mail, Burton Mail, Coventry Telegraph, Derby Telegraph, Leicester Mercury, Nottingham Post and Stoke-on-Trent daily The Sentinel – amid plans to merge print production across the region into a single operation.

The company has since confirmed the same model is set to be introduced across the country – with potentially 41 jobs being put at risk as a result.

Reach has declined to give further details, but it is understood eight roles at risk are based in the North-West of England, and a further eight in the South-East.

The remaining 19 roles are likely to be split across Reach’s other operating regions, namely Wales, the South-West and the North-East. It is not known whether any other editor roles are at risk of redundancy.

Reach declined to comment on Tim’s situation specifically, but a company spokesman previously said: “Our investment in rolling out a common system allows us to introduce a common production model across Regionals editorial.

“This means regional teams will now work more closely together than ever before, which enables us to refine our workflows.

“Our priority is to focus on our long-term success and we believe this will strengthen our ability to deliver first class content to our print and digital audiences.

“These proposals mean a potential reduction of up to 41 roles across Reach Regionals and we have begun consultation with all colleagues affected.”

10 comments

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  • November 22, 2018 at 8:42 am
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    Another triumph for the Reach management and their commitment to local journalism, there. When is someone going to hold them to account for the increasing gap between the public statements about improving local journalism, and the sheer number of staff they’re cutting on the ground to keep their failing digital project afloat?

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  • November 22, 2018 at 8:59 am
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    What endgame are Reach, and other companies, aiming for with decisions like this?
    Stripping out all of the experience and knowhow, not to mention the local links, will leave local papers across the country bereft of the ability to properly connect with their audiences and ultimately unable to regain some of their former success.
    Relying on enthusiastic but callow junior reporters to do everything is not a sustainable model in the long run – though perhaps they would do better in some of the top jobs at these companies.

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  • November 22, 2018 at 9:53 am
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    Too much damage has been done,and too many readers and advertisers have gone elsewhere for them to properly connect with their audiences @Stig , it’s when things are in freefall that you need good people at the helm,both editorially and commercially,so letting the best go and trying to survive with greenhorns and inexperienced people in once senior positions is the recipe for further decline and complete collapse.
    All they can do now is manage decline as best they can.

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  • November 22, 2018 at 9:58 am
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    Is it right Reach are also making staff redundant in Cambridge and Chelmsford? I’m told there is a chance there could be no print production capability at Cambridge after Dec 31 – the Head of Print is leaving, the lone sub is in consultation and the designer was made redundant earlier this week. That would mean Chelmsford, where there are also planned cuts, would have to produce the lame-duck CN, the least worst-performing title in the country before Trinity Mirror took over.
    So, two questions: What is the long-term future for the Cambridge News given their website is now Cambridgeshire Live?
    And why are Iliffe still perfecting their Nero impression while their former title burns?
    I’m sure the staff at Waterbeach – and their former colleagues who have already bitten the dust – would like to know.

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  • November 22, 2018 at 10:26 am
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    As frustrating as it is to be watching the wholesale dismantling of the company as well as the entire industry Jeremy,publishers such as Iliffe are extremely unlikely to reinvest in additional print products,as I pointed out before,local newspaper audiences are in decline so throwing out good money in an attempt at clawing some back just doesn’t make sense.

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  • November 22, 2018 at 10:58 am
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    Worked with Tim a few years ago on all those titles. What the story doesn’t say is he has been doing the work of three editors – WG, S&G and the Mid-Somerset series had an editor each. Sounds like a horrendous job editing all seven. Good luck Tim

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  • November 22, 2018 at 10:59 am
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    It’s not so much taking on additional print products, Phillip (although Iliffe were critically out-manouevred by Trinity Mirror when they tried to buy back the CN in 2015-16) as beefing up their existing title to become a viable alternative, even if the potential is there to do so. At the moment, their vehicle seems to be stuck in first gear.

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  • November 22, 2018 at 11:51 am
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    “Our priority is to focus on our long-term success and we believe this will strengthen our ability to deliver first class content to our print and digital audiences.”
    What that actually means, based on personal experience of Trinity Mirror and Reach ‘strengthening’, is drastically lower print story counts, less local content, more bland nationally-syndicated feature pages, more AMAZING! listicle-based, Tweet-recycling websites and an ever-hastening spiral of decline for properly-researched, properly-written local news. Also, talking about ‘historic’ titles and ‘respected news brands’ while actually wiping out all trace of said century-old titles and familiar, established brands online.

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  • November 22, 2018 at 12:22 pm
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    If ever a headline summed up the state of the industry today

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  • November 22, 2018 at 1:46 pm
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    The sustainability of any print newspaper depends upon one thing and one thing only: The ability of that newspaper to persuade reluctant advertisers that it has a sufficient reader base to render any advertisement they may place cost-effective.

    With even our largest cities’ newspapers barely attracting readerships of 50,000, I would suspect that we left the prospect of sustainability some many staff culls ago.

    Frankly if Reach et al really believe they can create a sustainable environment by constantly cutting staff and moving the few who remain further and further from the areas they are supposed to serve, they caught the wrong banana boat.

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