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Johnston Press announces 'disastrous' cuts in South Yorkshire

17 June 2011

Journalists at Johnston Press centres in South Yorkshire and Humberside are facing further threats to jobs under extensive plans announced by the company.

The latest threatened cuts, reflecting 18 redundancies sought across South Yorkshire Newspapers, would cause particular damage to the weekly South Yorkshire Times title at its office in Mexborough.

The proposals include closure of the Goole Courier's office and the reduction of the editor's role at both Goole and Mexborough, leaving a single editor based at the Selby Times' office to manage all three titles.

Management also threatens to cut a reporter's role at Mexborough as well as an editorial assistant post. Journalists working at the Doncaster centre for the sister Sheffield Star title are also being told that they will now report to the Doncaster editor-in-chief, as well as Sheffield editorial management.

The company has blamed the cut-backs, which it wants to conclude within a month, on "underperforming advertising and circulation" and the need to reduce costs. Chapel members will be holding an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the developments.

However, Chris Morley, NUJ northern and midlands organiser, said:

"These proposals show how flimsy are Johnston Press's claims to believe in local journalism to serve the communities where its newspapers circulate. How can a newspaper and website properly engage with the town when it has no editor?
"The ironic element here is that in this announcement, the company has chosen to attack the editorial department of one of the best performing title for circulation in its stable. The South Yorkshire Times has fought hard for its reputation as a campaigning newspaper that digs out stories people want to read but this seems to cut no ice with the corporate bean counters.
"Our members are in no mood to accept these wholesale cuts which merely undermine the jobs that remain for the future. It is a disastrous blend of hopelessness and defeatism and shows that Johnston Press has no idea or strategy to grow the business or defend its staff and customers with a positive strategy.
"We will be examining these proposals hard over the coming weeks and our members will decide on what approach they have to meet their challenge."

The South Yorkshire Newspapers NUJ chapel said:

"We have been expecting yet more cutbacks every day but the savage nature of today's announced cull has left us shocked and devastated.
"However, this is not over. What happened to some of our members today will happen to others tomorrow and the day after that unless a line is drawn. We are confident that our members are now minded to draw it."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary-elect, said:

"The job cuts are disastrous for quality journalism and local democracy. The cuts in Yorkshire are not insolated incidents and expose the ruthless business models employed across our profession."

Tags: , newspapers, local newspapers, regional newspapers, doncaster, goole courier, south yorkshire times, south yorkshire newspapers, mexborough, sheffield, sheffield star, johnston press, cuts, redundancies