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Up to 10 roles under threat at sister dailies in editorial hub plan

Up to 10 journalism roles are at risk at two sister dailies as a result of plans to create a new editorial hub covering both titles.

Staff at the Southern Daily Echo and the Bournemouth Echo have been told of plans which could also see some jobs transferred from Southampton to Bournemouth, more than 30 miles away.

The proposal comes after it was revealed last month that the two titles’ editorships were set to merge, with Daily Echo editor Gordon Sutter taking charge of both Newsquest-owned papers and Bournemouth Echo editor Andy Martin moving into semi-retirement with a new associate editor role.

In a separate move, Newsquest has also revealed plans to close the office of the Chester Standard, with its three reporters being relocated to the offices of sister daily The Leader in Mold.

The Bournemouth Echo's office

The Bournemouth Echo’s office

Under the editorial hub plan, the two dailies’ business editor roles would be merged into a single group business editor position, while two photographer positions in Southampton and Bournemouth would be merged into a group head of digital imaging post. Both new roles would be based in Bournemouth.

The current role of nostalgia writer, based in Southampton, would be extended to additionally cover the Bournemouth area, with a new role of a group nostalgia writer, operating from both locations, being created.

The Southampton-based roles of content manager/head of production, lifestyle writer and inputter would be removed from the new structure as they “no longer will be required”, while one Southampton-based sports reporter role would also be made redundant.

In all, the roles placed at risk of redundancy in Southampton are one business editor, one content manager/head of production, one lifestyle writer, three sports writers, one picture editor and one inputter – with two posts, business editor and head of digital images, under threat in Bournemouth.

A message to staff, which is attributed to both Gordon and Andy and has been seen by HTFP, states: “The company continues to review all functions and disciplines across the business and where appropriate implement re-organisations or consolidations of functions so as to deliver efficiencies and reduce costs.

“In line with that, a review has been ongoing into the editorial content and operations at both the Southampton and Bournemouth centres.

“Following this review the company has now identified an opportunity to restructure both centres and is proposing to create one editorial hub reporting to the Southampton & Bournemouth group editor, Gordon Sutter.

“Subsequently, some editorial functions currently based in Southampton will be either amalgamated and moved to Bournemouth or work from both locations while other roles will no longer be required thus placing them at risk of redundancy.”

In a separate move, the company has revealed plans to shut the office of the Chester Standard, with its three reporters being relocated to Mold, in North Wales, where daily title The Leader is based.

A voluntary redundancy scheme has also been opened for staff in Chester and Mold, but in a message to staff, seen by HTFP, Newsquest’s North West & North Wales managing director Nick Fellows said he hoped to “avoid unnecessary redundancies wherever possible”.

HTFP reported last week how Newsquest had announced the creation of a Lancashire regional news team to be drawn from staff at the Bolton News and Lancashire Telegraph, which will involve some “key management roles” relocating from Blackburn to Bolton.

A Newsquest spokesman said: “We continue to look at ways of working more efficiently across our business and have recently had a review of the Bournemouth and Southampton departments. We are now proposing to create one joint editorial hub in Bournemouth for both centres reporting to the group editor Gordon Sutter.

“Subsequently, some editorial functions currently based in Southampton will be either amalgamated and moved to Bournemouth or work from both locations while other roles will no longer be required thus sadly placing 10 at risk of redundancy.

“Separately, the company is proposing to centralise the Leader and Chester editorial function. This regional news team will be based at the Leader offices in Mold and in order to avoid any compulsory redundancies we are willing to consider any requests for voluntary redundancy in the first instance.”

6 comments

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  • April 29, 2019 at 10:07 am
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    Usual Newsquest spin about seeking to “avoid unnecessary redundancies wherever possible”, when in reality they clearly want to cut the number of staff and hope that people will volunteer to go so they can proudly state they haven’t imposed compulsory redundancies. Great sympathy with all affected by these moves, but sadly they aren’t a surprise in the slightest.

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  • April 29, 2019 at 10:27 am
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    The only surprise here is that they haven’t described their machinations as “exciting”.

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  • April 29, 2019 at 11:16 am
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    This is desperate stuff – desperate manoeuvres from the publishers and desperately sad in terms of the reporters, their newspapers and the communities they serve.

    Although dressed up by Newsquest to give the appearance of some sort of tweaking or efficiency drive, it will in reality rip at the hearts of these newspapers.
    It is impossible for the Southern Daily Echo and Bournemouth Echo’s future coverage not to be substantially poorer, and also less relevant, to their readers as a result.

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  • April 29, 2019 at 12:30 pm
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    we have all seen the results of hubs, whether in NQ, JP, or anyone else. And it is not pretty.

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  • April 29, 2019 at 4:29 pm
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    Yes, we have seen the results. Herd them up into a hub… and then start dismantling the hub.

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