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Journalists call for a halt to takeover of the Isle of Wight’s County Press by Newsquest

6 July 2017

NUJ members of the Isle of Wight’s County Press have come out to protest in the strongest possible terms about the proposed takeover of the newspaper by Newsquest.

They said experience has shown the sorry fate of publications taken over by the American-owned newspaper group. They fear the island will lose its independent press and that Newsquest will cut jobs and prevent reporters from being able to provide readers with the detailed, well researched news articles, sports coverage, features and community news they currently provide.

The journalists have implored the shareholders to halt the deal for three months in order for the existing management to develop a business plan and a long term strategy for the County Press. A statement from the Isle of Wight County Press NUJ chapel said:

“It was with shock and sadness that we read the letter from the Isle of Wight County Press board that greeted us when we arrived for work on Monday, June 19. This letter promised a new and exciting future for the County Press under the auspices of a 'well respected' media conglomerate that will invest in, and improve, our newspaper.
“It is the same message put forward in the CP letters column by Newsquest’s senior management last week – and no doubt by the CP board when asking shareholders to vote for the takeover at the EGM on Wednesday, July 12.
“We feel it is only right to raise our concerns before any decision is taken. We oppose in the strongest possible terms the sale of the CP to Newsquest.
“We work in the industry and we know only too well what a Newsquest takeover means. We all have friends and former colleagues who have worked for once-independent papers now run by Newsquest. Note the past tense - they used to work there.
“Take a look at the fate of newspapers taken over by Newsquest, and you will see sweeping job losses and a huge drop in quality.
“We fear the same fate will befall the CP. Dedicated, hard working and loyal staff will lose their jobs, and the breadth of detailed, well researched news articles, sports coverage, features and community news will be diminished enormously.
“Reporters will no longer have the time to cover court, or council meetings, or football matches, or village fetes, carnivals and horticultural shows… the things that make the CP special, well known and well regarded by its readers. They are things that make the Island special. Newsquest have previously not been swayed by such concerns when making deep cuts.
“The people of the Island deserve a quality newspaper. We take huge pride in working for the CP, and we all live and work in the community. We appreciate why the board has recommended that shareholders accept this offer, but Newsquest's pledges to invest in the paper will mean nothing once the deal has been signed.
“Should shareholders vote for the sale, we are imploring them to give us three months' grace before any deal is signed, enabling us to work with the existing management to develop a business plan and a long term strategy for the CP .
“We know you care about the CP and the Island community it serves. The CP is worth fightingfor, and worth saving, if we are given a chance.
“The CP has been locally owned since it was founded in 1884. It is a community paper in the truest sense of the word. Let’s not throw that away.”

According to a report in Hold the Front Page,  Norman Arnold, the chair of the island’s development board has now written to the paper’s management asking for a two-month delay while a local bid is developed.

Tags: , isle of wight, county press, newsquest, takeovers, local news matters, local newspapers