AddThis SmartLayers

Publisher plans to close newspaper offices in company-wide restructure

A regional publisher is set to close some of its newspaper offices in a restructure which will see journalists working from home or “in the field” instead.

Archant has announced the proposal, which affects five of its smaller offices, saying retaining them “makes no sense commercially”.

The plan was unveiled in a memo sent to staff this afternoon by chief content officer Matt Kelly, which has been seen by HTFP.

No titles will close as a result of the proposal and there are no job losses as a result.

Archant has yet to confirm which offices will be closing, but HTFP understands that two of the company’s Norfolk offices, at Cromer and Diss, are among those affected.

The Cromer office has historically housed staff of the North Norfolk News, while the Diss office is the base for the Diss Mercury.

The other three offices earmarked for closure are in Suffolk and Hertfordshire.

An Archant spokesman said: “Archant can confirm that, as part of an ongoing review of the suitability of its offices, 5 town offices in Norfolk, Suffolk and Hertfordshire will close. There are no title closures or redundancies associated with this change.”

In the memo, Matt said: “In the past few months, we have been taking a hard look at costs across the business so we can continue investing in the transformation necessary to help us thrive in the future. One of the largest costs we incur is paying rent for our offices.

“I’ve decided that now is the right time to change how we produce some of our titles without being office-bound, helping both save us money and making us more visible in our communities.

“The idea of having an office in the centre of our towns made perfect sense when technology made it difficult for us to operate remotely and when the front desk was a great source of both stories and advertising. All that has changed now.

“The vast majority of our advertising customers today want to do business with us digitally or over the phone. Stories no longer walk in through the front door either. The amount of footfall we generate from having expensive office locations has plummeted in recent years and makes no sense commercially.

“The new content management system, which the business is heavily investing in to give us the tools to be the best journalists we can be, means reporters can operate from pretty much anywhere, even areas where there is no bandwidth or mobile signal. It will truly transform how we work.

“All those factors combined means we are going to embark on a process of closing some of our smaller offices and adopting, instead, a new way of working – with reporters working from the field and home, and only when absolutely necessary, using one of the remaining offices which will act as a hub, particularly for editors to see off the weekly newspaper and for staff meetings, 1-2-1s and the like.”

He added: “In truth, we are taking this opportunity to change sooner than I’d anticipated – but the most important thing to me is getting reporters working in the heart of our communities and having the resource to continue investing in quality journalism.”

5 comments

You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • March 6, 2019 at 4:33 pm
    Permalink

    So much for the once-floated idea of the Cromer office becoming a cafe! No news yet of the sale of Prospect House? If that fails to happen I don’t think any of the offices in King’s Lynn, Dereham, Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and Bury St Edmunds have got much of a future.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(30)
  • March 6, 2019 at 4:41 pm
    Permalink

    Remote working will become the norm across the company to reduce costs with the recent ABCs showing just how few people buy the papers or advertise any longer
    “…The vast majority of our advertising customers today want to do business with us digitally or over the phone” it doesn’t bode well for the many field sales reps still provided with company cars and mobile phones, even more so for the many commercial managers incurring high costs but producing almost nothing.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(61)
  • March 6, 2019 at 4:58 pm
    Permalink

    Surely if you want to “make us more visible in our communities” you open local offices and staff them fully not close them?
    Believing a faceless local reporter,in all likelihood a new recruit or inexperienced one with little or no local knowledge and very few contacts,will get you credibility and a local presence is laughable,
    And no surprise the Cromer office is closing considering how so few people buy a copy of the NNN against the increased number of people getting it free from the NN website these days,poor content and a growing reliance on UGC might save a few quid but it’s long term effects will prove costly

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(90)
  • March 11, 2019 at 3:17 pm
    Permalink

    The weekly paper portfolio is on its last legs and must be under threat of closure ,they’re spent forces padded out by social media lifts, old content and hardly any adverts ( are there still reps working on these titles?)so it’s no surprise district offices are closing as neither they nor the weekly papers can make financial sense,however you’d think the editor of the New European would be more upfront about it and could do better than to trot out the old pony of it being a way of investing in the community news service,it’s not,the papers are irrelevant in their areas and no amount of backtracking will recapture audiences long since moved on to better,more relevant local news sources.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(22)
  • March 11, 2019 at 3:53 pm
    Permalink

    The question asked in my earlier comment might very well be answered in this quote: “The vast majority of our advertising customers today want to do business with us digitally or over the phone”

    Assuming they still have them,the logical cost saving step must be to do away with costly field reps altogether then?

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(18)