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Leicester Mercury urged to support their own county campaign

18 March 2009

Journalists are calling on the Leicester Mercury to back its own Support our County campaign and cancel plans to transfer jobs to Nottingham. Sub-editors are to be forced to move as part of a reorganisation of Northcliffe's East Midlands operation.

The proposed changes would mean the loss of 66 printers' jobs in Leicester as well as the journalists'. The Mercury would print overnight with no live editions.

The announcement came in the middle of a seven-week long Mercury campaign to encourage readers to shop in Leicestershire.

Chris Morley, NUJ Northern Organiser, said:

"The Support our County campaign had the laudable aim of encouraging independent traders.
"But, while parading their Leicestershire credentials on the front page of the paper, Mercury bosses were in the boardroom hatching plans to forcibly move some local shoppers on their own staff – and their money – to Nottingham.
"You couldn't make it up.
"The sub editors in Leicester collectively have more than 250 years experience as journalists – you can't replace that level of local expertise."

The Leicester Mercury NUJ chapel has written to local MPs, councillors, and other opinion formers urging them to protest about the cuts to the company. Their letter says:

The Northcliffe newspaper group, which runs the Leicester Mercury, is cutting back on the number of journalists who produce your local paper.

The Leicester Mercury is one of hundreds of titles the company owns across the UK, which also include the Nottingham Evening Post and Derby Evening Telegraph.

Last year, operating profits for the Daily Mail and General Trust, parent group for Northcliffe, were £317 million. At Leicester, latest figures show the company made £20,000 profit for each employee. In pursuit of further 'cost savings' the company plans to move the printing and journalistic production of the Leicester Mercury to Nottingham.

So, if Northcliffe really values this county, and being "At the heart of all things local", why is it moving production of a proud local paper all the way to Nottingham?

We recognise these are difficult financial times and that cost savings may have to be made – and even that some jobs may be lost. However, we have put forward proposals that would make substantial savings without ending a proud 135-year history of producing Leicestershire's daily paper in Leicester.

Journalism in Leicestershire is under threat and we are asking for your help to defend it.

With your support, we hope we can persuade the company to keep the Leicester Mercury's production local, something we believe the people of Leicestershire and Rutland want. Please back the Leicester Mercury.

Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, said:

"We applaud the campaign of the Mercury chapel and pledge them our total support.
"Newspapers and websites that champion the local economy make themselves look stupid when their own agenda is to pay low wages, cut jobs and suck cash out of the community for their shareholders."

In Derby, journalists have also protested about the transfer of sub-editors' jobs to Nottingham – after the Derby Telegraph campaigned against civil servants being moved in the same direction.

Tags: , newspapers, northcliffe, leicester mercury, nottingham, nottingham post, daily mail and general trust, derby, derby telegraph