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Journalists launch bid to keep daily on patch after office closure confirmed

Journalists have launched a campaign to keep a regional daily’s office on its patch amid plans to move the newspaper to a sister title’s HQ.

The National Union of Journalists says it is entering talks with Reach plc over the planned closure of the Burton Mail’s office, pictured below, next month.

HTFP revealed last week how the company was proposing to relocate Mail staff 12 miles away to the Derby Telegraph’s office at least two days a week, with them working from home the remainder of the time.

But the local NUJ chapel instead wants the company to resource a “new and cost-effective base for journalists” in Burton upon Trent, and is also seeking guarantees that the Mail team will remain intact and will not lose out financially due to working from home.

Burton Mail office

The chapel believes Reach’s actions “imply a move towards closing the newspaper” and has called on management to rescind their decision.

Chris Morley, NUJ Northern and Midlands senior organiser, said: “We are entering talks with the company about a very significant development for our members which some fear may compromise the future of the Burton Mail as a proud daily publication.

“This newspaper and its brand are highly regarded locally and have a successful history in representing this unique and very individual town.

“It is crucial that the journalistic team that does so much to properly reflect that is not broken up and its character destroyed. We will be working with the company to make this both a sustainable and successful business.

“We hope the company will seriously consider all the options and take the right choices, not necessarily the easy but unsustainable ones.”

The chapel says it has approached local businesses, politicians, civic society organisations, advertisers and readers to support the campaign.

HTFP has approached Reach plc for a comment.

A spokesman for the company previously told HTFP: “We can confirm that the Burton Mail office will close on 10 January.

“We are currently consulting with the 12 affected people on our proposal that they work from the offices of the Derby Telegraph at least two days a week and from home the rest of the time.

“There are no redundancies as a result of this change and we are committed to listening to our employees and keeping them fully informed.”

6 comments

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  • December 17, 2019 at 5:59 pm
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    ‘… we are committed to listening to our employees and keeping them fully informed.’
    In other words: ‘… we’ll go through the motions of listening to what they say and we’ll then tell them what we are going to do (which is shut the office anyway).’

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  • December 17, 2019 at 7:04 pm
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    When Reach decided to close our office and merge us with another one, we only found out when the estate agents came around to measure up.🤦‍♀️

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  • December 18, 2019 at 9:48 am
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    Big News has decided it doesn’t need offices and that its journalists and as staff can work remotely. (I’m sure all proper assessments are made before they make these decisions.)

    With all these individuals working alone covering ever increasing patches they are in effect acting as their own small businesses. The only difference is that apart from a wage they don’t get to enjoy the spoils of their efforts.

    It will eventually occur to the best of them that, if they can find the advertising themselves they don’t need the middle man.

    The hyperlocal network would do well to encourage more of these reporters to join them.

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  • December 18, 2019 at 11:18 am
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    Many seasoned and well connected journalists,cast aside by the failing bigger groups, are making really good livings by joining the new independent publishers you mention Percy Hoskins.
    If those choosing to start their own community newspapers can team up with one of the first class advertising people (also deemed no longer useful) they’d find a ready made audience fed up of irrelevant click bait churn looking for professionally written hyper local community news and local businesses keen to reach them.

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  • December 18, 2019 at 4:22 pm
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    Whatever happens the paper must have locally based reporters. Just see what writing “off patch” has done to other papers.Sterile, shallow reporting with no context will be the norm.

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  • December 18, 2019 at 4:30 pm
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    There always seems to be a bigger fish. I’m convinced at some point the Derby Telegraph itself will be run from Nottingham or Birmingham at some point it’s just a matter of time. When it is, I’ll no longer be interested in the publication if they can’t be bothered to be based locally why would you buy the paper?

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