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Launch editor slams ‘abhorrent’ cuts as he quits role after four months

Michael Brromhead 2023A city news website’s de facto launch editor has fired a parting shot at “abhorrent” cuts after leaving his role just four months into the job.

Michael Broomhead has announced his departure from National World, where he was the sole dedicated editorial member of staff at its Derby World website.

Michael, pictured, joined Derby World as a senior digital journalist in April, shortly after taking voluntary redundancy from Reach plc, where he was content editor at the Nottingham Post.

He reported to Nancy Fielder, editor-in-chief for National World’s Cities division, while a previously-promised dedicated editor for the Derby title had yet to materialise.

Michael’s departure comes after rounds of cuts affecting more than 50 journalists were undertaken by National World, while a voluntary redundancy scheme has also been opened for editorial staff with more than two years’ service.

Michael, who previously spent 13 years with National World weekly the Derbyshire Times, told HTFP: “I was very proud and excited to launch Derby World. I wanted to do a lot more with this new title and I wanted to see it grow further.

“But I felt the working situation I found myself in was simply unsustainable. I put myself first and tendered my resignation.

“Generally speaking about the industry, I think the relentless cost-cutting, axing of staff and gutting of titles up and down the country is abhorrent. It is also counter-productive in the long-term. I dread to think how many people have noticed the effects of all the brutal cutbacks over the years – and turned away from us.

“As time goes on, I fear we will only see even more cost-cutting, more axing of staff and more gutting of titles. As a result, even more people will turn away from us. Revenues will decline even further. And then what? Where are we heading?

“I know there are many very real challenges and issues facing the industry – there have been ever since I joined it in 2009. But big companies which report strong balance sheets need to urgently unlock more investment for their struggling assets at this critical time – or the descent into oblivion will only accelerate.

“I deeply care about this industry. I have done ever since I walked into my first newsroom as a schoolboy on work experience. I speak to a lot of journalists – serving and former – who are absolutely horrified at what is unfolding in front of our very eyes.

“It breaks my heart and I am desperate to see a brighter future for the industry I love.”

Elsewhere, deputy search engine optimisation Rhona Shennan has become the latest departure from the publisher’s national news website NationalWorld.

In doing so, she joins a recent exodus from the title that also includes data journalists Harriet Clugston and Aimee Stanton, political and investigations writer Ethan Shone and political editor Tom Hourigan.

NationalWorld editor Nick Mitchell has also moved to a group-wide head of audience role, with the National Union of Journalists claiming that David Montgomery, the publisher’s executive chairman, has now become the site’s de facto editor.

Rhona, who joined National World forerunner JPIMedia in 2019, posted on Twitter: “For anyone that’s been following the NationalWorld news, this will come as no surprise but I have also parted ways with the site.

“I loved my time as deputy SEO editor and while I’m not sure what’s next for me, I’ll be spending my garden leave enjoying the Edinburgh Fringe.”

HTFP has approached National World for a comment on Michael and Rhona’s departures.