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Newsdesk chiefs set to be axed as 46 journalists at risk of redundancy

An estimated 46 journalists have been put at risk of redundancy- including the heads of eight regional dailies’ newsdesks.

Journalists have been told by National World that their roles are under threat, with those affected having to reapply for 14 newly-created positions with the company.

Among those put at risk are five deputy editors and three audience editors who are responsible for running the newsdesks of National World’s eight city daily titles – the Blackpool Gazette, Edinburgh Evening News, Lancashire Post, Portsmouth News, Sheffield Star, Shields Gazette, Sunderland Echo and Yorkshire Evening Post.

HTFP understands that this in effect means reporters will report directly to those titles’ editors once the deputy editor and audience editor roles have been made redundant.

JP's Leeds office

National World’s Leeds office

A number of reporter roles have also been put at risk across the group, as well as positions in the publisher’s search engine optimisation and social media operations.

The move comes after a restructure earlier this year led to control of print placement being taken out of the hands of the city dailies’ editors and being handed over to a newly-created Daily Press Division.

According to the National Union of Journalists,t 46 editorial staff are at risk following Monday’s announcement, while a total of 25 full-time equivalent roles are set to be made redundant.

HTFP understands those at risk can apply for the 14 new positions, which include deputy editor, early editor, late editor and SEO editor – with the company’s national news operation NationalWorld.

Reporting roles have also been created, along with an LDR editor position to manage the network of BBC-funded local democracy reporters employed in National World newsrooms.

In a statement, the NUJ National World Group chapel said: “Our members are extremely angry about the proposed redundancies and associated restructuring, not least because the company does not appear to have fully thought through how the changes will work in practice.

“We have significant concerns about the wellbeing of members in the teams where cuts are proposed and fail to see how forcing out experienced staff will help the company to reach its goals for audience growth.

“The group chapel is alarmed to hear about the pace at which the company is seeking to complete the consultation process, with reports of some affected staff having less than 24 hours to prepare for their initial consultation meetings after receiving the notification letters. This is no way to treat people who are already in a highly stressful situation.

“The decision to make these redundancy announcements has come in the same week that the company issued our members with an ultimatum on pay – accept the 4.5pc offered by 30 June or forfeit backpay to the April 1 review date. It is disgraceful that they would take this approach, particularly when the lack of progress to date is entirely down to their refusal to enter into any meaningful talks at local or national level.”

HTFP has approached National World for a comment on the plans.