AddThis SmartLayers

Group editor among five journalists axed as publisher reveals features cull

Dominic CastleThe entire features departments of four sister dailies are set to be axed in a move affecting six journalists – including an editor.

Newsquest has announced plans to make five roles redundant at former Archant dailies the East Anglian Daily Times, Eastern Daily Press, Ipswich Star and Norwich Evening News.

Dominic Castle, pictured, group editor for Newsquest’s Norfolk and Suffolk magazines, is among those at risk, along with Norfolk feature writers Stacia Briggs and Emma Lee, Suffolk group features editor Charlotte Smith-Jarvis and Suffolk digital features writer Danielle Lett.

A sixth journalist, Rowan Mantell, is set to continue in her role as assistant editor of Norfolk magazine following the changes, but will no longer write features for the EDP and NEN.

The team was told of the plan on 25 January and are currently in a 30-day consultation period.

The proposed redundancies were set out in a letter by Newsquest Suffolk regional editor Liz Nice, which has been seen by HTFP.

It read: “As you will be aware from the recent announcement, the company continues to look at all functions and disciplines across the business and where appropriate implement reorganisations or consolidations of functions so as to deliver efficiencies and reduce costs.

“I appreciate that this is an upsetting and difficult time for everyone. I can assure you that we will do all we can to keep you informed and involved in the process.”

One member of staff, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “This is a move which, at one fell swoop, will remove a wealth of talent and experience from titles they have served for decades.

“It is heartbreaking to see what is happening to these well-loved titles. No self-respecting newspaper runs without a features team to provide colour, a change in tempo and the considered, writerly pieces that readers are accustomed to.

“Newsquest in the East is haemorrhaging experienced staff who are either being made redundant or who are seeing the way the wind is blowing and jumping ship. To actively seek to lose the cream of the writing crop is fundamentally damaging to already-struggling titles.

“Staff are frightened, overworked and disillusioned. The takeover by Newsquest has decimated decades of hard work and loyalty.”

Last April, strike action was averted at Newsquest’s titles in Glasgow after the company backed down on a threat to make the entire features team at Glasgow-based daily The Herald.  Six jobs were saved as a result.

Newsquest declined to comment on the plan in East Anglia when approached by HTFP.