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Johnston Press Yorkshire strike: Quality suffers when staff are cut

16 August 2011

Within days of the Mexborough-based South Yorkshire Times canning its award-winning editor Jim Oldfield, its lifeblood estate agents' cash is draining away to the opposition.

The free weekly Dearne Valley Weekender, produced by the rival Rotherham Advertiser, launched a 12-page Property Plus supplement last week. The pull-out was the same size as the paid-for Times. In a unique move, the Weekender announced on its front page: "Buying a house? See our new property section".

The move came just days after striking editor Jim Oldfield was made redundant by courier – after South Yorkshire Newspapers pushed a hand-delivered brown envelope through the door of his home at teatime.

Estate agents in Mexborough, where the Times is produced, have been displaying the strikers' posters in their windows.

Jim Oldfield and five SYT journalists have been on indefinite strike for a month over job losses, office closures, vastly increased workloads and low pay along with reporters on the Doncaster Free Press, the Epworth Bells and Selby Times.

Estate agents money has always been a critical factor in the finances of Johnston Press, which still reels under a crippling £388 million worth of debts, racked up with toxic banks in its pre-recession empire-building days.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said:

"Johnston Press sack journalists, increase workloads and attack people's living standards. Their business model is not working; crippling debts and huge pay outs for management failure means shareholders have been left clutching cut price shares and many journalists have lost their jobs.
"The NUJ Yorkshire strikers are on the frontline fighting for the future of our industry and we stand behind them in full support. Johnston Press need to realise that investment in local communities and high quality news is the key to survival and success."

Tags: , johnston press, newspapers, regional newspapers, local newspapers, rotherham advertiser, dearne valley weekender, doncaster free press, epworth bells, selby times, south yorkshire times