Johnston Press starts the year with cull of almost 100 jobs
11 January 2016
Almost 100 editorial posts are to be cut on Johnston Press titles, which include the Scotsman, Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post, Lancashire Evening Post and Derry Journal.
Last week, Jeremy Clifford, editor-in-chief, announced a staff review which would include cuts to newsrooms across the board. The NUJ believes 15 jobs will be at risk at the company's production hubs at Edinburgh and Peterborough, with some jobs being transferred to Sheffield. Twenty two management jobs –editors, content editors and deputies – will go across the group.
In Scotland, 32 jobs are expected to go and in Northern Ireland up to 13 editorial posts, 10 reporters and three managers, will be lost. In the north east up to 10 posts are at risk and eight in the north west. However, as there are a number of vacancies which have not been filled owing to a recruitment freeze, these posts may cost towards the total. For example, while there are no reporter cuts in the south, there will be a review of management and four vacancies at Portsmouth will not be replaced.
According to Press Gazette figures in October, Johnston Press has shut or merged 33 titles since 2012.
A statement from the NUJ group chapel said: "Friday's announcement has caused panic among our members. It is very difficult to see how the company can continue to function after yet more editorial job cuts. The lack of consultation also raises concerns that this could be to make short-term savings which will ultimately be self-defeating. Newsrooms around the company are already carrying high levels of staff vacancies and we hope the company is fully aware of this. Meaningful talks need to happen as a matter of urgency and our members should be involved in any decisions about possible restructuring."
The group chapel is holding a meeting on Thursday to discuss its reaction to the job losses. The company has given a deadline of 29 January to apply for voluntary redundancy.
Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said: "This is devastating news to begin 2016 with. Members are already stretched to cover gaps as a result of jobs not being filled last year and previous rounds of cuts. There are big concerns about the content that can realistically be produced under such straightened circumstances. The pressure to meet financial targets appears to be influencing internal decisions, alongside the slowing down of digital advertising revenue growth. We would like an open discussion with the company about why they have taken this decision and what has prompted this announcement. We need a meaningful consultation with our members about the way forward. There needs to be a proper plan. We need a strong local press with journalists able to do the job they came into it to do."
Paul Holleran, NUJ Scotland national organiser, said: "It would be an understatement to say that journalists across Johnston Press are shocked at this latest round of job cuts. The union will work with local management to mitigate the redundancies and their impact on the quality of titles but we are seriously concerned at this announcement."
Last week Newsquest announced as that as many as 25 journalist posts would be cut at the Herald and Times newspapers in Scotland.