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Managers switched to reporter roles in newsroom restructure

David KingAt least four newsroom managers have been moved into frontline reporting roles in a restructure which will see journalists focus on digital content.

JPIMedia has introduced the restructure across its North Midlands and South Yorkshire division following an earlier pilot project at its North-East titles.

Although no jobs have been lost, it is understoood that at least four managers who unsuccessfully applied for equivalent roles in the new set-up have been invited to apply for reporter roles instead.

At the same time, a number of new managerial positions have been created, with responsibilities across the whole division, which includes Sheffield daily The Star and weekly titles in South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Phil Bramley, hitherto group editor of the Derbyshire Times, Mansfield Chad, Worksop Guardian and other Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire weeklies, becomes head of audience, while Julia Rodgerson, head of content at The Star, take on the same role on a division-wide basis.

Dan Windham, currently assistant digital content editor at Sheffield daily The Star, is made live editor, while Louise Cooper, digital editor for the Chad and Derbyshire Times, becomes a specialist editor along with Star reporter Lee Peace.

A new role of print and curation editor has also been created, with specific responsibility for print titles across the division, although an appointment to this position has yet to be made.

Nancy Fielder, editor of Sheffield daily The Star, will now have overall editorial responsibility for all the North Midlands and South Yorkshire newsbrands.

The restructure is part of JPIMedia’s  ‘Digital Acceleration’ project which has seen journalists move away from the print production process and concentrate on digital work.

Chief executive David King, pictured, revealed the new structure would now be rolled out across other regions, although the company has declined to reveal further details on where on when it will next be introduced.

In an announcement to staff last month, which has been seen by HTFP, he said:  “I am pleased to announce that following the great results we have seen in the North-East during the pilot, we are now ready to start the next step in the deployment of Digital Acceleration across JPIMedia.

“The focus has been on understanding and delivering content that our most loyal users want and is paying off.

“Engagement with our content has improved significantly with page views per post up 20pc.  We also grew our loyal audience by 17pc over the 90-day pilot.

“This also positions us well to grow revenues from subscriptions as we deploy paywalls across our larger titles.”

David added: “Print remains an important part of our business and the pilot. The digital first approach to content creation has not affected print circulation.

“We will start talking to our teams today about the deployment of Digital Acceleration across the NMSY region (Sheffield, and Derbyshire) with other regions to follow. We will be communicating more details about that in due course.

“I would like to thank both the programme team and the NE team for all their hard work in ensuring the pilot was a success. Please give the project teams your full support as we roll out Digital Acceleration.”

A JPIMedia spokesman said: “As part of our Digital Acceleration programme, we are in the process of introducing new roles to reflect a radically new way of running our newsrooms that has been tested successfully in our North-East region.

“The new newsroom structure allows our journalists at all levels to focus more on digital story telling and develop new skills essential to helping to transform our business.

“We are still talking to our staff about the structure and the role they will play within it, so while this is taking place it is inappropriate for us to comment further.”


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  • November 1, 2019 at 11:45 am

    Surely your headline should read “Managers upgraded to reporter roles”. We want fewer of the former and more of the latter, do we not?

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  • November 1, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    It’s a start in reducing the number of staff with ‘manager’ in their titles assuming this isn’t just a cosmetic name change?
    Hopefully this might kick start a long overdue reduction in commercial/ ad managers and encourage other groups to follow suit.
    Cost savings will follow with no adverse affect on the bottom line.

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  • November 1, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    rather too many non-non reporting roles in JPI so this is a good move, though how good the managers will prove on the coal face is a big question if their management is anything to go by.

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  • November 1, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    rather too many non-reporting roles in JPI so this is a good move, though how good the managers will prove on the coal face is a big question if their management is anything to go by.

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  • November 1, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    Best this has sent a few shivers down the spine of certain staff at JPI offices at Sheffield, Leeds and Preston!

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  • November 1, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    Focusing on digital story telling is all very well but if you can’t read the sparkling prose without clambering over all the page furniture clutter, then it matters not how many reporters you chuck at it.

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  • November 1, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    Greenslade – remember these are people you are writing about, technically a demotion and probably a pay cut as they have to re-apply for the jobs.

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  • November 1, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    If newspaper managements were half as good at attracting readers as they think they are at reorganising, we would have need to be concerned for the future of our industry.

    The only real question is when will the reorganisation of the reorganisation come along?

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  • November 4, 2019 at 10:15 am

    If the staff aren’t being forced to take pay cuts, this makes a lot of sense.

    Too often in local papers the best and brightest reporters are promoted to manager level.

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  • November 4, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Not in my experience Percy Hoskins
    It’s the easy to manage ones who won’t rock the boat and do whatever they’re told to do who get the managerial roles, the most talented staff have either long gone or are not interested in being managers.
    This is one of the fundamental reasons why the once larger groups are in such rapid decline, no one challenges their often ill conceived strategies.

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  • November 4, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    Sounds like you might have a chip on your shoulder Russ.
    In my experience, and I was only put out to pasture a couple of years ago so I have plenty, the best people got the best editorial jobs.
    And in the days when we had almost a closed shop, it was often the most effective union reps who got promoted – and they certainly weren’t ‘Yes’ men/women.
    I detest this infantile view that in order to prove you put up the best fight you could to save jobs, you should fall on your sword. Being a martyr doesn’t feed your kids and pay the mortgage.
    There are fundamental reasons why regional newspapers are dying – and having ‘weak’ editors isn’t in the top 10 of valid reasons Russ…

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