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Cuts-threatened journalist quits industry ‘for sake of mental health’

Corey BedfordA regional journalist whose role is under threat as a result of the cutbacks at Reach plc has decided to take voluntary redundancy for the sake of his mental health.

Leicester Mercury reporter Corey Bedford, left, who is also father of the paper’s NUJ Chapel, says Reach bosses have told him his job is at risk for the third time in the space of a year.

Now he has announced that in order to safeguard his mental health he has reluctantly taken the decision to ‘call it a day’ in regional journalism.

The publisher announced earlier this month that it was shedding 450 roles across the business – including 320 editorial posts.  It follows the loss of 102 editorial roles in January and a further 192 roles in March.

As FoC, Corey has represented reporters caught up in all three redundancy consultations and seen first-hand the impact the cuts have had on both the journalists and the titles they work for.

He claims ten roles have been cut from the Mercury team during 2023 alone, leading him to question the decisions made by publisher Reach plc.

Corey told HTFP: “I’ve worked in local news since completing my Master’s degree at the University of Sheffield and I couldn’t have wished for a better experience.

“The teams at the Grimsby Telegraph and the Leicester Mercury have taught me so much – even when we have faced substantial cuts to staffing, the loss of our office spaces, and often not seeing each other in person for weeks at a time.

“Local journalism is being failed by these cuts, it’s plain and simple. When you are seeing almost 1,000 people being taken away from the company within the space of a year, it’s clear that the issues stem from the top.

“I just hope that the staff at the Leicester Mercury and its sister sites can continue despite such extensive cuts and setbacks.

“The staff I have worked with at Reach titles have been some of the most incredible and talented journalists I have ever met, coming up with bold, creative ways to represent their communities and audiences.

“They are being failed by the company’s continued struggle with mismanagement under the guise of ‘restructuring’.”

His post on LinkedIn, under the heading ‘career news’ added: “I am taking voluntary redundancy after finding my job at risk for the third time this year, and for the sake of my mental health and other personal reasons I’ve opted to call it a day in local journalism.

“Unsure of next steps, but freelance should be on the horizon and I am looking at comms and PR work. If anyone has any job openings to flag, I’d appreciate it.”

A Reach spokesperson told HTFP: “”Our employee assistance programme offers a range of wellbeing tools including counselling sessions, cognitive behavioural therapy and career support and we will continue to encourage all employees to make use of these options.
“Wellbeing continues to be a top priority for the business during difficult times.”

As reported on HTFP yesterday, Reach has now confirmed the closure of 13 of its ‘Live’ websites as part of the cutbacks.

The company’s Bristol office closes today while its Newcastle office will close at the end of January.