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Publisher targets city battlegrounds in restructure affecting dozens of journalists

David MontgomeryJournalism roles are set to be redeployed to bigger cities as a regional publisher prepares fresh launches on rival territory.

National World has confirmed a restructure affecting dozens of staff which will see the creation of 30 new digital journalist roles.

However, it is understood a similar number of existing jobs are to be made redundant across the group, with some reporters affected being offered alternative roles at National World’s city-based ‘World’ titles.

The changes come after the publisher revealed last month it is expanding the ‘World’ brand into three as-then unspecified new areas.

It would now appear that these three areas are York – traditionally served by Newsquest daily the York Press – Leeds and Portsmouth, where the company is currently recruiting for deputy editor roles.

City ‘World’ titles have previously been launched by National World in Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Newcastle, putting the group in direct competition editorially with ‘Live’-branded titles owned by rival publisher Reach plc.

A voluntary redundancy scheme has been launched by National World as a result of the changes, with the company stating its aim to further automate its editorial production processes.

As previously reported on HTFP, the redundancy scheme appears to be targeted at long-serving employees on historically high salaries with a view to maximising cost savings.

Long-serving journalists who have previously departed under the scheme include three Yorkshire Post stalwarts – cartoonist Graeme Bandeira, photographer Gary Longbottom and features editor Chris Bond, along with Sheffield Telegraph editor Ellen Beardmore.

Publishing areas affected by the latest changes are understood to include the Midlands, Portsmouth, Scotland, Sussex and Yorkshire.

One National World staffer told HTFP: “People are worried which is not surprising when there has been zero communication. We’re journalists but they’re treating us as if we’re stupid.

“It’s an insult to all of us who are working long hours for dreadful pay. Morale is at absolute rock bottom after years of being treated appallingly.

“We’re hearing on one hand that it’s becoming difficult to find decent journos to fill vacancies and then we’re being told decent reporters are being made redundant. It makes no sense.

“The company is also having a big push on the mental health of colleagues at the moment.

“Feeling secure in your job, having enough reporters to cover the area and being paid a decent wage for doing it would be the easiest way to ensure the emotional well-being of staff.”

In a statement, National World said: “Given the rapidly changing nature of the media marketplace, National World is continually reorganising its teams to best serve its national footprint and the many city world launches that have taken place in the last 18 months.

“This involves a measure of redeployment, voluntary redundancy options and recruitment of 30 new digital journalist roles, which are currently being advertised.

“We have highly motivated teams who relish the changes taking place to our publishing model in order to take advantage of individual expertise and to further automate historical industrial editorial production processes, which will make National World more competitive and relevant to our customers.”