Johnston Press offers low-paid journalists free bingo games
23 May 2011
The struggling Johnston Press group has resorted to offering its underpaid journalists the chance to play free games of online bingo to supplement their wages. However, the company has barred them from winning the top prizes.
The company is telling its staff that they can now play 40 free games of Johnston's online bingo, proclaiming that this "staff offer is even better" than the 30 free games available to the group's newspaper readers. The company has made 230 editorial staff redundant in the past year and had previously frozen salaries for nearly two years.
Jenny Lennox, NUJ assistant organiser and negotiator, said:
"It seems that the real lottery for journalists at Johnston's is whether or not they will still have a job in a year's time.
"The NUJ has frequently drawn the attention of Johnston shareholders to the shambolic management of the group, and its determination to dilute and even destroy the quality journalism which its journalists are still providing across the UK.
"But we are entering a whole new never-never land when we find that the company is now resorting to bingo to keep afloat – and pay massive management salaries – while cuts to its journalistic service to local communities are driving away readers, advertisers and revenue.
"We have been warning for more than a year that the Johnston Press group is being run into the ground. This once-proud newspaper group has destroyed the bond of trust with its journalists, and is destroying a well-regarded brand, further reducing the credibility of the titles in the eyes of its readers.
"It will take a lot more than bingo to restore that reputation, and the NUJ demands that Johnston management begins today to work with its skilled and dedicated journalists to rebuild a stable of newspapers of which readers, staff and the group can be proud."