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Doncaster Free Press lifts strikers' story

3 August 2011

Shameless newspaper bosses have been forced into lifting an exclusive story written by their own striking journalists.

Reporters from South Yorkshire Newspapers, currently in their third week of an indefinite walkout, splashed about plans by Doncaster's elected mayor Peter Davies to outlaw spitting in the town on their bootleg newsletter.

The story was not picked up by the skeleton staff that is continuing to produce the weekly Doncaster Free Press – until they were alerted by the strikers' 'bootleg' newspaper 'News Of The Don' on Thursday.

Union members unearthed the story after using their own time to go to an evening Doncaster Council meeting in a bid to beat their Johnston Press (JP)-owned newspaper.

A re-hashed version of the scoop then appeared on the Free Press' website after other staff, believed to be from another JP title, contacted the council for the same statement issued to the strikers.

A spokesperson for the Doncaster NUJ chapel said:

"Yet again the management of South Yorkshire Newspapers has demonstrated their breath taking arrogance.
"Stealing stories from their own journalists, who they have forced onto the picket line with their ludicrous plans, almost beggars belief.
"It just shows these bean counters will stoop to any level to get their products out."

The News Of The Don has been produced from the picket line since the start of the dispute with journalists finding a number of exclusive stories missed by their titles.

Striking journalists in Mexborough and Selby are also producing their own papers and both have scooped the official JP titles several times.

The chapel spokesperson added:

"Scrutinising local democracy and finding good quality news stories which thousands of people want to read is the bedrock of local journalism.
"Unfortunately the thoughtless cutbacks which Johnston Press bosses have tried to force through mean reporters will simply not have the time to go out and do their jobs properly."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary, said:

"Time and again our members show that Johnston Press needs its journalists. Management should not turn a blind eye to the strikers' legitimate cause. Their titles will only survive if they invest in jobs and quality journalism rather than maximising shareholder returns."

Tags: , doncaster, strike, newspapers, local newspapers, regional newspapers, cuts, mexborough, selby, doncaster free press, johnston press