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Offices to close and websites to be axed as part of Reach cutbacks

Offices are set to close and websites axed as part of the cutbacks announced by Reach plc yesterday that will see the loss of 320 journalism jobs.

Reach chief executive Jim Mullen announced yesterday that 450 jobs are to go across the business with chief digital publisher David Higgerson confirming that 320 of them will be editorial roles.

Full details of the cuts package are yet to be revealed, but it is already clear that Reach plans to dramatically scale back its operations in some parts of the country.

The cutbacks appear to signal the end of the company’s ambition to extend its ‘Live’ online brand across the whole of the UK, which saw Reach expanding into areas traditionally served by other major publishers.

HTFP understands that at least ten sites are facing closure including Wiltshire Live, Dorset Live and Staffordshire Live, while others could be merged.

Meanwhile Reach’s Bristol office – which only opened last year – is to be replaced by an ‘editorial meeting space’ while the company’s telesales operation will be centralised at a single base in Hull.

A Reach spokesperson told HTFP: “I can confirm that some of our smaller titles will be closing and we’re speaking to our people on this.

“Regarding Bristol, our office will be replaced with an editorial meeting space.”

Mr Mullen held a so-called ‘town hall’ meeting with staff yesterday afternoon which led to him facing questions about the impact of the cuts on journalists’ mental health.

One anonymous member of staff posted a comment saying: “The last round of reduncancies left my mental health in pieces. My wife cuddled me on the floor while I sobbed for 10 minutes. Do you realise the damage this is doing to your workers’ mental health?”

After the comment was re-posted on X, the individual concerned later added: “Just to flag that is was me who left that mental health comment during the Town Hall.  Thankfully I’m much better now despite the latest round of cuts, but I wanted to share my own experience and express concern for other people’s mental health.

“I’m glad it’s been picked up in so many tweets with many lovely comments. Hopefully it sends a message to Jim and his board.”

National Union of Journalist reps in the South West have told HTFP that eight journalists in the region have been told their jobs are at risk with the Gloucestershire Live and Somerset Live websites among titles affected.

James Garrett, chair of the union’s South-West England branch, said: “Reach seems to have lost any idea of how to run a news operation. This is the third time this year it is making the people who provide the content for its papers and websites pay for its failings.”

“Six hundred of the company’s most valuable staff will have lost their jobs in the space of just 12 months. Meanwhile, chief executive Jim Mullen appears to be insulated from the chaos he has created around him.

“Perhaps the most shocking news is that a company which once sold over 100,000 copies of its newspapers, the Bristol Evening Post and Western Daily Press and Bristol Observer, every day from vast offices on Temple Way, Bristol, is going to shut its new offices, leaving it without a base at all.”

Yesterday’s announcement was the third major round of cutbacks to be announced at Reach this year, following the loss of 102 editorial roles in January and a further 192 roles in March.

The last set of redundancies led to a string of senior journalists leaving the publisher including Leicester Mercury editor Adam Moss, Teesside Gazette editor Ian McNeal and Burton Mail editor Julie Crouch.

HTFP understands that at least one regional daily editor will be leaving as a result of the current cutbacks although this is yet to be confirmed.

If confirmed, the title in question will be left without a dedicated editor for the first time.