Production of eight sister newspapers is to be halted after another regional publisher announced plans to tackle the economic impact of coronavirus.
However, JPIMedia has also expressed its intention to “retain staff during” the pandemic and will continue to publish online in the areas affected.
In a message sent to all staff this morning, chief executive David King said: “We have already seen a substantial reduction in advertising as necessary social distancing and free movement restrictions are imposed.
“We have engaged with the government to ensure our key workers can continue to do their vital work, and provide news and information to the public.
“In the short term, as a result of the Government announcement on Monday restricting the free movement of people and closure of retail outlets, we have undertaken a further review of the impact on part of our publishing portfolio.
“Having had conversations with the main distributors of our free titles, we have been informed that they can no longer guarantee the distribution of those papers to households.”
The suspension takes effect next week and will be reviewed in line with any changes to government advice about the movement of people and closure of outlets.
As reported on HTFP yesterday, Newsquest is to temporarily cut staff pay and place some journalists on leave due to the coronavirus pandemic, while the MNA has suspended publication of its free titles and opened a voluntary furlough scheme for all staff.
Added David: “We recognise the important role we play in our communities, providing our readers with vital information at a critical time – and connecting our communities through the news and information we serve. We also recognise the need to support our advertisers. We will continue to update our websites in these markets with relevant information.
“It is also our intention to retain staff during this period and we are carefully exploring how we can use the various Government schemes available to support both the business and our staff.
“We are also engaging with the government to ensure our paid newspapers can continue to be available in supermarkets and local stores.
“I appreciate this is a very worrying time. We have made provision for you to work at home. We continue to operate our print sites with tight restrictions on access and internal movement. Please follow government advice and keep yourself and your family safe.”