AddThis SmartLayers

Three journalists axed as daily cuts sports and arts coverage

230X280-charles-hutchinsonThree journalists have been made redundant in cuts to its sports and arts coverage at a regional daily- with local football fans claiming the move may “threaten the very existence” of the newspaper.

Peter Martini, de facto sports editor and York City Knights rugby league writer at York daily The Press left the paper on Friday along with its York City Football Club Dave Flett.

Arts editor Charles Hutchinson, pictured, will also leave The Press this month after more than three decades with the paper.

Charles had previously had his role put at risk in 2017, but was saved from redundancy after York’s arts community launched a campaign to get the decision reversed.

Dave, who has been a journalist for 22 years and worked for The Press for 16 years, posted on Twitter on Friday: “Final shift done at The Press after 16 years as York City FC reporter. Been a privilege and met so many great people.

“Also wish my colleagues based at Walmgate (not a single bad egg among them) all the best for the future. Currently open to all offers of future employment too.”

Peter, a journalist since 1996, told local radio station Minster FM: “Doing this job, I’ve worked with some terrific journalists at The Press, and met great people in the York sporting community and the wider world of football and particularly rugby league. We have covered good and bad times at both York City Knights and York City FC.

“It’s great to see what’s been happening at the Knights in recent times and I feel I’ve made friends for life there. We wish both clubs every success in the future.

“I’ll be following them closely and still hope to be involved in one way or another.”

In response, York City’s official Twitter account posted: “Good luck for the future Dave and thanks for your coverage over the last 16 years. Hopefully, this does not signify the end of City match reports in The Press.”

York City FC supporters have told Minster FM they were “disappointed and concerned” by the redundancies.

Mike Brown, chairman of the York City Supporters’ Trust, said: “[Dave’s] reporting of matches, community initiatives and fundraising events have provided a vital link between the football club, supporters and the wider York community we serve. Indeed, it was the York Press that coordinated the original ‘Save City’ campaign and provided logistical support when we first formed the Supporters’ Trust in 2002.

“Ultimately, losing that vital content and readership may result in a downward spiral that threatens the very existence of the York Press altogether. It has been a real pleasure to work with Dave and we wish him all the best for the future.”

Gary Hall, of the Knights Supporters Society, added: “Thank you Pete for all your support especially in those dark times in 2002 when we were campaigning to keep rugby league alive in York.”

Charles has worked for The Press for more than 30 years, most of them in his current role.

His position was earmarked for redundancy in November 2017, but he decision was reversed after an outcry by local arts organisations.

A spokesman for Press owner Newsquest said: “We continue to look at ways of working more efficiently across our business. Following a review of the York business we have decided to progress with reducing the sport and arts departments.

“While these redundancies are regrettable, it means we can continue to invest in frontline reporters which are central to the continued success of our local news brands.”


You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • July 2, 2019 at 10:30 am

    This story first emerged on a non-league football message board last week, and since then I have looked out for the local reaction. Getting rid of two experienced sports staff – as well as the arts editor, though I can’t comment on him – has done monumental damage to the York Press brand. I pity those having to try to fill the gap.

    Personally I don’t believe a word of the Newsquest corporate, going-through-the-motions reaction, but even if there are efficiency savings to be made from these redundancies, I would have though that two reporters who go out to fixtures and represent the public face of the York Press are actually what might be called “frontline reporters which are central to the continued success of our local news brands”.

    I note that one of the affected reporters mentioned on Twitter about the sports department now being comprised of “apprentices”, How’s that going to work then, Newsquest? In pre-internet days, it was possible for most under-trained twentysomethings to come in and just immediately cover the news angle of sports reporting, because that’s what was required then. Now, however, it’s all about analysis, comment and background, and while there are some twentysomethings who can do that, such tasks are beyond many, when confronted with having to write with authority about things which happened before they were born. Both York City and Knights have extremely chequered recent pasts, and I would have thought that having the pre-eminent local-media experts on your staff to cover both would be a major part of your business plan, but plainly I am wrong.

    So if the York Press is going to reduce its arts and sports coverage, where does that leave it? Apart from becoming a weekly before long, I would imagine. What are going to be its strengths, which draw people to its website and but copies of the paper? Presumably it’s just going to be filled with more group-wide generic filler.

    I have always maintained that a newspaper’s best-known reporter is the person who covers the football club. Having long side got rid of all the chaff, if Newsquest is now reduced to having to axe core staff to maintain absurdly-high profit levels its products won’t be around for much longer. What do we give printed titles such as the York Press? Three or four years tops, I would say now, with this sort of business strategy.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(52)
  • July 2, 2019 at 10:51 am

    sport used to be a big seller . now it seems bosses can’t be bothered with doing it properly. If they are not careful they will end up with publishing merely propaganda from the clubs’ press offices.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(35)
  • July 2, 2019 at 11:00 am

    Everything about this story sums up Newsquest. Getting rid of respected and long-serving staff and showing little concern for the affected departments, while only bothering to put out the same bland statement as always with just a few words amended. Although times have changed a bit, there are still enough people who buy the paper or visit the website because of the sport coverage (and probably arts as well) and NQ can have few complaints if those people turn their backs on the title. It’s increasingly feeling like unless you are senior management or a “frontline reporter” then your face does not fit at NQ.

    If NQ really are desperate to be “working more efficiently across our business”, then for starters they should stop handing out cash prizes to reporters whose stories get the most website hits each month. In my view this shouldn’t be an incentive for any reporter when covering a news story and it’s insulting to any NQ staff member facing redundancy to receive emails each month from Toby Granville proudly declaring that they’ve given out £250 cash rewards to other members of editorial staff. The amount may not be huge, but it’s money that could be put to far better use.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(40)
  • July 2, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    I still miss journalism after being in the “game” for 50 years but I certainly wouldn’t want to be on a paper now. When you get rid of reporters who have worked their patch for years you are also saying goodbye to their contacts.Good luck to those facing the axe. And good luck to those who will now be even more tied to their computer screens instead of getting out and about finding out stories.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(24)
  • July 2, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    Wordsmith . Yup, before things took a nose dive about 2008 it was far from perfect and hard work but it was so much more fun. And the papers were so much better. Feels like miserable job now.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(28)