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Closure of Newport subbing hub "a disaster"

7 March 2017

The closure of Newsquest's subbing hub in Newport, with the loss of 14 jobs, has been described as a disaster by the National Union of Journalists.

John Toner, NUJ national organiser for Wales, said:

"The announcement is a huge blow for the staff who survived a redundancy process just a matter of months ago and now find they will lose their jobs after all. Is there another company as incompetent and brutal in equal measure?
"The company has shed many of its experienced and talented sub-editors on titles across the UK and has now ditched the dedicated editing team in Newport. The plan, if this company can be thought to have any plan apart from having no strategy except cutting jobs, appears to be to off-load editing back to titles in Scotland and the north, which are woefully under-staffed, and to the hub in Weymouth.
"This has been a disastrous experiment for all involved. The NUJ will ensure its members at the Newport hub are fully supported."

A memo by Carl Blackmore, Newsquest regional production manager at Newsquest, published by HoldtheFrontPage, said:

“As you are aware we continue to face difficult trading conditions with sustained pressure on the profitability of the business….With so much of newspaper copy-editing work now no longer being required, it is anticipated that the copy-editing department will not need the same staffing levels going forward. Following a review of the costs of each of the two copy-editing hubs, it is proposed that all copy-editing work will cease to continue in Newport with effect from 7th April 2017. All content is proposed to be copy-edited in the Weymouth hub from 10th April 2017 in order to achieve the most efficient and cost-effective process. Unfortunately, this proposal places all 13.85 FTE roles in Newport at risk of redundancy with effect from Friday 7th April 2017…"

Chris Morley, NUJ Newsquest coordinator, said:

“The proposal to axe remaining jobs in the Newport subbing hub,  just two months after more than halving the workforce there, appears to be a panic measure to help keep going the level of generous profits from Newsquest exported to America. 
"Bob Dickey, boss of US parent company Gannett, acknowledges in his guidance today to the money markets that the lower value of the pound is hurting the company and that they are cutting costs in the first half of the year to flatter the company’s figures in the second half. But UK journalists should not be sacrificed to fickle transatlantic exchange rates.
"For many years Gannett happily benefited from the enhanced earnings in Britain derived from a strong pound, so bosses must use current circumstances to invest in their operations on this side of the Atlantic, not grind it further into the ground.”

Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West , said:

"Gannett has delivered many severe cuts on the loyal and skilled employees in Newport. Before  the shock of another crop of unexpected redundancies has been absorbed, a further blow arrives. Newport has lost our century-old printing function and dozens of journalists have been sacked to advance Gannett's quest for profits."

The south Wales subbing hub once employed 70 people.

Tags: , newsquest, local news matters, local newspapers, newport, subbing hub, redundancies, wales, cuts