NUJ calls on media owners to stop local newspapers office closures
8 April 2014
Journalists at the Bromsgrove Advertiser and Kidderminster Shuttle have been told that their offices in Worcestershire are to be closed.
Editorial staff will transfer to the sister Newsquest centre at Stourbridge, West Midlands. The move from Bromsgrove to Stourbridge is about 12 miles and to Kidderminster it is about 8 miles.
A message announcing the closures and relocation was sent to staff last week. The NUJ does not have negotiation rights with management at the two sites marked for closure but the union has recognition at Stourbridge so will be contacting journalists based at the Bromsgrove Advertiser and Kidderminster Shuttle to offer NUJ advice, support and assistance.
The local newspaper sector has been hit by a range of offices closures among weekly titles lately, this strategy has been adopted by most local newspaper owners. Trinity Mirror wants to close the Crewe Chronicle office in an experiment in ‘remote working’ and Johnston Press closed the Skegness Standard offices in the town to become an ‘officeless paper’ without any prior announcement.
In this latest sign of retreat from communities, putting greater distance between local newspapers and their audiences, Newsquest is using the justification of the end of the office leases to shut down the local offices. The NUJ strongly condemns the proposals and will campaign to resist attempts to create a reporting hub that moves media workers further away from the people they serve. The best hope for growth and success is to invest in newspapers to produce quality journalism which is delivered from the centre of towns and communities.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
"Newspaper offices belong in the heart of the communities they represent. Closures like these, motivated purely by the bottom line, destroy that connection between reader and title, as well as with local businesses, making it even harder for reporters to cover their patches properly."
Chris Morley, NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser, said:
"It seems like open season at the moment on weekly newspaper offices that have sat proudly in the centres of the communities they serve for decades.
"Both Bromsgrove and Kidderminster are very much distinct towns with their own identities - something that their local newspapers must reflect if they are to succeed. Unfortunately, this retreat by Newsquest is just one more attack made by the corporate hierarchy on local quality journalism.
"Subbing expertise in the county was removed last year and placed into the care of the factory subbing hub in Newport. Now reporters struggling to cope with the severe limitations of this new editorial system will have a round trip of more than 25 miles to see readers and meet contacts face-to-face.
"This is driving the heart and soul out of local papers and puts a damaging distance between journalists and the community. What would be unforgiveable however would be if Newsquest went even further by trying to create a reporting hub in an effort to force still more cost-cutting."