Six more newspapers have suspended publication after their staff were furloughed bringing the total number of print titles shelved due to the coronavirus pandemic to more than 20.
Printing of the Tindle Newspapers-owned Glamorgan Gem series has been temporarily suspended because of the COVID-19 outbreak, with a short announcement on the newspaper’s website stating that “all of our staff have been furloughed” as a result.
The Gem runs six editions covering Barry, Bridgend, Cowbridge, Llantwit Major, Penarth and Porthcawl.
In a message to readers, editor Gina Robertson said: “Like many local businesses we have had to adapt the way we work as we get to grips with the knock on effects of COVID-19. We have had to make some major changes to the way we operate due to the restrictions placed on us by the virus.
“This has meant turning the big broadsheet Chronicle into a neater tabloid offering, similar in size to our sister paper the Monmouthshire Beacon. Working as a team we managed to get the Chronicle out in less time than normal and against tighter operating restrictions.
“The Chronicle is still the newspaper for Abergavenny however while this crisis is ongoing we will change the way we work so there will also be a more general coverage of stories to include Monmouth.
“We hope you will stick with us as we continue to serve our local communities with trusted news from you, our readers.”
HTFP has approached Tindle to ask whether any further measures have been put in place by the company due to the pandemic, and for clarification on how many editorial staff have been placed on furlough leave.
The moves by the company in South Wales have led David Melding AM, the Tory shadow minister for media in the Welsh Assembly, to voice concern.
He said: “It is inevitable that the effects of this pandemic will affect all sectors of industry, and freesheets that are reliant on advertising or paid-for papers that rely on a combination of income steams will not be immune.
“However, what is concerning me about the closure, albeit temporary, of a local newspaper is that not all people are digitally connected and therefore able to access other news sources.
“Perhaps especially so in this time of unparalleled uncertainty, the comforting regularity of a weekly newspaper can mean so much.”
Tindle’s decision to suspend publication of the Gem titles follows yesterday’s announcement that Reach plc was shelving free weeklies the Manchester Weekly News, Sutton Coldfield Observer, Lichfield Mercury, Midweek Visiter and Blackmore Vale Magazine.
Previously JPIMedia had suspended publication of eight of its free titles, Northern Ireland’s Spectator group had put three on hold and the Midlands News Association did the same to all of its free titles including Chronicle Week, the Shrewsbury Chronicle and Telford Journal.
The family-owned Newry Reporter also revealed yesterday that it was suspending its print and digital operation, but would continue to provide updates via Facebook, while its sister title the Banbridge Chronicle has also made the same move.
In total, nine editorial staff are affected.
STATEMENT FROM THE EDITOR pic.twitter.com/Sv5KIyNlA1
— Newry Reporter (@newryreporter) April 8, 2020
Editor Paul Welsh told readers: “While we are living in unprecedented times, we have continued to bring you the best in local news and sport and I am immensely proud of all my colleagues for the efforts they have gone to, particularly over the last number of weeks, to keep the Newry Reporter in publication.
“The reality is that these are extraordinarily difficult trading times however, we are not the only local independent business in this situation and like so many others, we will return as soon as it is possible to do so.
“In the meantime, I would like to thank our readers and advertisers who have supported us and hopefully will do so in the future.
“Finally, I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all NHS and care staff working on the frontline during this Covid-19 crisis, often at great risk to themselves. Our thanks will never be enough. To everyone, please stay safe.”