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South Yorkshire strikers back in work

8 September 2011

NUJ members at South Yorkshire Newspapers returned to work today following eight weeks of strike action. They have condemned the standard of the newspapers produced by freelance, mainly unqualified and inexperienced, staff in their absence.

The Doncaster Free Press edition dated Thursday 1 September splashed a story about the local council's creation of an 'ASBO buster' squad – a story broken in the striker's newsletter News of the Don four weeks previously.

Over in Mexborough, two key stories were also missed by the unqualified staff producing the South Yorkshire Times.

The newspaper missed the tragic death of Mexborough boy Matthew Cartwright who died aged eight on Tuesday 30 August after apparently falling in to Swinton canal on Bank Holiday Monday and the SYT also missed the story of high-profile local boxer Gwyn Wale who was left fighting for his life after being stabbed through the heart on Thursday 25 August.

Strikers at both papers say they were fully aware of all three stories that were missed. One said:

"Frankly the papers produced in the time we were on the picket line were simply shoddy. These are only the most recent examples of stories missed or pinched from our newsletters during the last eight weeks.
"The standard of work produced by the motley crew of freelancers, work experience kids, PRs pretending to be journalists and the children of management was just awful – I can't believe a professional newspaper group let them do the work.
"Our readers are used to so much better and now we're back at work we will be able to give them the hard hitting up to date news coverage they expect and deserve."

Chris Morley, NUJ Northern & Midlands organiser said:

"This catalogue of editorial disasters shows what happens when newspaper companies try to do without skilled, professional and motivated journalists.
"Our members want to get back to properly serving the readers of these great titles. There is now a window of opportunity for the company to show in tangible ways that it has recognised the concerns of our members."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"We are delighted that meaningful negotiations have started with South Yorkshire Newspapers and we hope the talks will be positive and constructive.
"Thousands of readers in South Yorkshire signed a petition and supported the NUJ dispute. They were appalled at what's happened to their local journalists and they want Johnston Press to produce high quality news for their local community."

Tags: , south yorkshire newspapers, doncaster free press, news of the don, newspapers, local newspapers, regional newspapers, strike