Former regional press bosses have praised recent job growth in the industry – with one ex-daily editor claiming that past newsroom cuts went too far.
Editorial recruitment drives have been launched by several regional publishers over the course of 2021, with Reach plc revealing last month it had taken on 400 journalists this year.
Other major job creation announcements this year have included Newsquest’s push to take on 50 new journalists, Archant revealing it was seeking 70 new staff and JPIMedia recruiting 45 employees to work on new city-based titles across the country.
The job creation spree of recent months has now sparked a debate online about whether the industry has “turned a corner” in terms of the diminishing newsroom headcount of previous years.
The last major round of job cuts in the industry occurred in the summer of 2020 following the first Covid-19 lockdown, with Reach axeing around 325 editorial and circulation posts and other publishers also announcing cutbacks.
However after successive recruitment drives Reach has since claimed it now employs more journalists than it did in 2019 before the start of the pandemic.
Among those to welcome the changes are former Northern Echo editor Peter Barron, pictured, and Bob Cuffe, who served as managing director for Reach forerunner Trinity Mirror’s North-East region in two spells.
University of Sunderland journalism trainer Neil Macfarlane prompted the discussion on Twitter after stating his belief that more journalism jobs are being advertised currently than at any time over the last 15 years.
Said Neil: “The number of our grads getting sweet jobs at local and national media going up and up too. Have we finally turned the corner?”
In response, Peter wrote: “Hopefully. I can hear the penny dropping that cuts went too far.”
Neil’s claim was backed by Bob, who was made redundant by Trinity Mirror for a second time in 2018.
He said: “I so wanted to be in the industry when this happened. I think a corner has been turned. After the many years of restructuring and redundancies I certainly hope so.
Journalists currently working in the industry also waded into the debate.
Graham Falk, engagement journalist at JPIMedia flagship The Scotsman, told Neil: “Can’t speak for everyone, but have to say the majority are ridiculously happy in their workplace. Most supportive industry I’ve ever been part of.”
The number of newspaper closures over the past year has also slowed to a trickle compared to 2019 which saw the demise of 13 JPIMedia titles among others.
At the same time many new, mainly online-only titles have been launched including the expansion of Reach’s ‘Live’ network beyond the company’s traditional newspaper footprint and the launch of independent titles such as Torbay Weekly and the growth of the Nub News network.