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Nine roles at risk as daily plans to merge district reporting teams

Andy RichardsonNine editorial roles are set to be lost and two new ones created as part of a regional daily’s plan to merge  four district reporting teams into two.

Newsquest has announced the proposals at flagship daily the Northern Echo, which will see an overall headcount reduction of up to seven and also involves a shake-up of its features operation.

The move would see four existing news reporting teams which cover Tees Valley, Durham, South West Durham and North Yorkshire reorganised into North and South teams, each with their own chief reporter.

The roles of listings editor, special features co-ordinator, features writer business editor and regional reporter have been put at risk, along with chief reporter/news editor positions in the four existing district patches.

The positions of chief reporter North, leading the Durham and Bishop Auckland teams, and chief reporter South, leading the North Yorkshire and Tees Valley teams, will be created.

The changes were announced on Friday by Echo editor Andy Richardson, pictured, who is himself due to leave the paper at the end of this month.

Andy’s forthcoming replacement by Hannah Chapman means her current deputy head of content role will also be available, although a currently vacant senior reporter position will not be replaced.

A formal consultation began yesterday, and anyone wishing to apply for the new roles has been urged to apply to Hannah by 5pm tomorrow.

In a message to staff announcing the changes, which has been seen by HTFP, Andy said: “As you are aware the Company continues to look at all functions and disciplines across the business and where appropriate implement re-organisations or consolidations of functions to deliver efficiencies and reduce costs.

“There is a need to reduce costs and deliver efficiencies in Darlington, and as a result the company is proposing to restructure the editorial team.

“This would result in the four existing news reporting teams which cover Tees Valley, Durham, South West Durham and North Yorkshire to be reorganised into two teams: a North reporting team (with its own chief reporter) and a South reporting team (with its own chief reporter).

“It is proposed that as part of the restructure the roles of regional reporter and business editor are at risk of redundancy. The appointment of Hannah Chapman to the role of editor/head of content will create a vacancy for deputy head of content. The role of senior reporter which has been vacant since Lizzie Anderson resigned will not be replaced.

“In addition, changes to content and workflows have placed certain roles in the features team at risk of redundancy. As this is currently a proposal only, the date of this is yet to be confirmed but is anticipated as being 17 August 2018.”

“As with any reorganisation, it is the policy of the Company to avoid unnecessary redundancy wherever possible and in an effort to do so it will undertake a consultation process with those affected to discuss potential ways of doing so.”

A Newsquest spokesman added: “We continue to look for ways to run our business in Darlington more efficiently to ensure that our titles have a sustainable cost structure for the future.

“Whilst any potential redundancies are regrettable, it means we can continue to invest in frontline reporters which are central to the continued success of our publishing business.”

The full list of roles at risk are:

Listings Editor
Special Features Co-ordinator
Features Writer co-ordinator
Business Editor
Regional Reporter
Chief Reporter North Yorkshire
Chief Reporter Tees Valley
Chief Reporter Bishop Auckland
News Editor Durham

The new roles due to be created, along with the existing vacancy due to be filled, are:

– Chief Reporter North – to lead the Durham and Bishop Auckland reporting teams
– Chief Reporter South – to lead the North Yorkshire and Tees Valley reporting teams
– Deputy Head of Content


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  • July 24, 2018 at 9:23 am

    NQ once dismantled the superb district network on the brilliant Evening Argus at Brighton that gave wonderful coverage of Sussex. It now has only a Brighton office, scant coverage of the rest of Sussex, and peak sales of 100,000 plus are now about 10,000 a day. it has long stopped being an evening paper. Good luck with this one everyone.

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  • July 24, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Very sad, as an ex district reporter myself. I wish everyone involved with this the best of luck, but I must admit some surprise at reading that anyone anywhere still has an animal such as a district reporter.

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  • July 24, 2018 at 11:19 am

    NewsQuest’s new motto: Making your local news less local every day.

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  • July 24, 2018 at 11:24 am

    They’re not district reporters as such, the echo as I understand it covers a massive geographical area, not like a city paper with a district office in a neighbouring town

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  • July 24, 2018 at 11:56 am

    A ONCE great paper well on her way to biting the dust.
    Legendary Echo editor Harold Evans must be fighting back the tears.
    I worked at the Evening Despatch alongside the Echo at Priestgate in the early ’80s – and the Echo was THE paper of the North-East.
    Just about all of my family, friends and neighbours took the Echo religiously back in those halcyon days with iconic news ed Mike Amos running the show.
    The paper did a brilliant job covering a vast, diverse, fantastic news patch – rolling from York in the south up almost to the Scottish borders in the north.
    It’s so sad and such an industry tragedy to watch Newsquest bring a once grand old lady to her knees, imposing a horrible slow death by a thousand cuts.
    Absolutely criminal.
    As other commentators have said, I can only wish the devastated victims of this latest bloodbath all the best carving out bright new futures for employers where they’ll be far more appreciated.

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  • July 25, 2018 at 8:34 am

    On one hand, at least Newsquest are honest about the ‘sustainable cost’.
    So many of these groups have dressed up cost cuttings as a way of improving editorial.
    But for my money, sustainable cost and investing in frontline reporters are uneasy bedfellows in the dance to slash spending and make ridiculously large profits for shareholders caring only about the pound signs today and not tomorrow.

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  • July 25, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    I hope that no chief at Newsquest HQ is ever quoted as saying: “Overall this is an improvement in our service to readers and advertisers.”
    More accurate to be quoted saying: “We’ve been taking steps to improve our profitability and so have had to ruin the quality of our papers unfortunately.”

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  • August 3, 2018 at 1:43 pm

    Well said, Redvers. Those were halcyon days, with you me and the other battling to scoop the Echo, and doing so regularly, but always aware that the Echo was the flag ship.
    It has been allowed to decline into a shadow of that 100,000 a day circulation giant into a minnow.

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