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Regional sites to bear brunt of Reach cuts as fresh departures revealed

Adam Moss 2023Regional titles are set to beat the brunt of the cutbacks proposed at publisher Reach plc, after further senior editorial departures were confirmed.

As announced on Tuesday, the UK’s biggest regional publisher has placed 426 journalism roles at risk in total with the goal of 192 posts being cut from the workforce.

Now the National Union of Journalists has revealed that 150 of the redundancies will take place across Reach’s Live network of regional news titles, its In Your Area hyperlocal network and its central and customer teams.

Reach has also confirmed the forthcoming departure of Adam Moss, pictured, who edits the Leicester Mercury, Coventry Telegraph and Northants Live, and Burton Mail editor Julie Crouch, while Nottingham Post content editor Michael Broomhead has announced he has taken voluntary redundancy.

According to the union, a further 17 roles are set to be lost in Reach’s digital sport department, 12 will go in Scotland and Ireland and 11 at its national titles.

The figures have been revealed in an email to members from NUJ organisers Laura Davison, Andy Smith, Nick McGowan-Lowe, Jane Kennedy, Pamela Morton and Ian McGuinness, which has been seen by HTFP.

In the email, they referenced the most recent round of cuts by Reach, announced in January last year, that has resulted in the loss of more than 80 jobs.

The redundancy process for the previous round of cuts was concluded only a fortnight ago.

The series of cuts come after something of a recruitment boom for the publisher in recent years, which boasted in 2021 that it employed more editorial staff than it had done two years previously and was aiming to employ around 2,800 journalists by the end of that year – more than were on its forerunner Trinity Mirror’s books a decade beforehand.

In its annual report last week, Reach revealed it was planning to cut operating costs by up to £29m after warning it is facing a “tough” 2023, although it also declared an operating profit of £106.1m in 2022.

In their email to staff, which has been seen by HTFP, the NUJ organisers said: “The union has been briefed by Reach about the headline announcements made in relation to further job cuts.

“The shocking scale of the proposals was immediately clear with 426 roles being placed at risk in editorial and 192 proposed job reductions.

“The company has said that the cuts are as a result of the continuing challenging economic environment and sky rocketing costs. In a letter to the union they have cited the 2022 annual results published a week ago, cost inflation and legal and pension obligations as major factors.

“In the same letter officials have been provided with confirmed figures in relation to specific areas within editorial where the company is seeking reductions. Sadly this makes for grim reading for colleagues in particular areas.”

They added: “We have already pressed the company in relation to support for staff through this period, on communication and on minimum redundancy terms.

“We know we had members whose health was affected by the previous redundancies which have only just been concluded.”

Adam, Julie and Michael become the latest senior editorial figures to have their departures confirmed from Reach in the past 48 hours – joining Alison Gow, the company’s interim audience and content director for video and audio, Teesside Gazette editor Ian McNeal and Cheshire Live editor Frances Barrett in saying farewell to the company.

Adam previously edited the Target series in Lincolnshire, and later served as executive editor at the Lincolnshire Echo, before taking on his most recent role in 2020.

Adam, who will leave the business in May, said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with the company over the last 16 years and it’s been a very special privilege to work alongside the truly dedicated teams in Leicester, Coventry and Northants since I became their editor.

“I’d like to thank every single one of my colleagues at Reach plc for their support and incredible hard work for all the time I’ve been with the company and also our readers, who turn to us every day for our vibrant mix of news and features both online and in print.

“Working in the regional news has never been ‘just a job’ for me since I started as a trainee reporter at the Malton and Pickering Mercury 24 years ago. It’s been my vocation.

“And even though I’ll no longer helping to produce the titles where I currently work, I will always be a keen reader and an avid supporter.”

Natalie Fahy, Reach’s audience and content director for the East Midlands, added: “I have worked alongside Adam in the East Midlands for the entirety of my time with Reach, which is just over a decade now.

“He has always brought so much energy and passion to everything he did, a true journalist to the core. He will be very much missed and I wish him the best for the future.”

Julie began her career 36 years ago at the Ilkeston Advertiser, later moving to the Derby Telegraph and then editing several weekly titles in Derbyshire for six years.

She moved to the Burton Mail as deputy editor just over six years ago, her second stint at the paper, having previously covered business, worked on the newsdesk and as a sub-editor over a 13-year period.

Julie took on the paper’s editorship in 2017 following the departure of Emma Turton.

In a Facebook post, she wrote: “It’s a job I’ve been so proud to do. I’m so grateful to the dedicated team at the Mail for all their support and hard work.

“Over the years I have worked with some amazingly talented and dedicated people. Newsrooms are brilliant places – there’s nowhere like them. There’s too many people to thank individually for all the help and support

“I’ve received along the way so thank you to all the teams I’ve had the privilege to be part of over the years – what memories.

“I’m off to do something new – not sure what yet but looking forward to the next chapter.”

Michael, who only joined Reach last year from National World weekly the Derbyshire Times, has been the only of the departees to confirm he is leaving due to taking voluntary redundancy.

He posted on Twitter yesterday: “Following yesterday’s announcement, I have decided to take voluntary redundancy from Reach after just under a year.

“I made my decision rapidly but with full confidence – and I currently feel a level of happiness, excitement and energy I have been lacking for far too many months.

“There are plenty of great, talented people at Reach. I wish those individuals who remain at the business all the best for what’s to come. And good luck to all those who will be joining me in moving on.”

In a further development, a group of Reach journalists acting under the collective pseudonym ‘Protect Journalism’ have launched a petition calling for the resignation of the publisher’s chief executive Jim Mullen, group editor-in-chief Lloyd Embley and chief digital publisher David Higgerson following the announcement.

A spokesperson for the group, who is among the journalists affected by the consultation, told HTFP: “The general feeling among Reach employees is that the company is heading in the wrong direction and we have lost confidence in the company’s senior leadership team after several years of redundancies, cuts and disputes over pay while scores of trusted news brands are effectively dismantled.

“The main sticking point is while we understand that difficult business decisions sometimes have to be taken, it is not acceptable that significant numbers of employees have been put at risk of redundancy just weeks after going through another drawn out and stressful consultation.

“If you were to speak privately to other journalists within Reach, you’d find there has been almost universal criticism of senior management within newsrooms for some time and there is serious anger over yesterday’s announcement.”

Reach has declined to comment on the NUJ’s email or Protect Journalism’s petition.