Two editors and three deputies face the axe as Johnson Press cuts standards to raise profits
The NUJ has called on the local community to condemn a “shocking” day for journalism as the Scotsman’s editor-in-chief is sacked, the editorships of the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post are to be combined and three deputy editorships are to go.
Furious NUJ members at the Scotsman walked out following a mass meeting where members were told boss John McLellan had been dismissed, calling on management to clarify on other cost-cutting or restructuring plans.
The union;s Scottish organiser Paul Holleran said: “The chapel are obviously angry and concerned, John was well respected as an editor and people want some answers about the company plans and long term commitment to the titles. I get the impression management want to reassure staff but this has massively disconcerted all the journalists across Johnston Press in Scotland.
“We want to retain the good industrial relations with the company the union has enjoyed in recent years but need assurances on how future cuts are going to be handled and that the management will meet the level of consultation we expect.”
Earlier, the managing director of Johnston Press announced the roles of editors at the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post were to be combined into a single role with responsibility for both titles – a decision NUJ members at the newspapers described as causing them “great concern”.
A statement from the chapel said: “Johnston Press constantly seeks more cuts and higher profits to ease the financial difficulties it faces – difficulties caused by Johnston Press’s own mistakes. At a time of great change within the industry, the decision to risk the loss of an experienced editor, on top of the job losses that have already occurred in the editorial department, can only be viewed with alarm. We hope that the wider community that these titles have served for many years will share our concern at a time when Yorkshire needs a strong and coherent voice to promote the interests of the region and those who live in it.”
The company also announced the editor of the Lancashire Evening Post has left the company, with the deputy editor roles at the Lancashire Evening Post, Blackpool and Wigan to be cut.
NUJ deputy general secretary Barry Fitzpatrick said: “This shocking announcement creates a huge amount of insecurity for our members. This cost-cutting programme will do nothing to enhance the quality of content or service to the reader. The local NUJ official has now been invited to meet the MD and we will be using this opportunity to ask her reconsider these changes which will have consequences for all the staff.”
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “These Yorkshire papers have a proud tradition of serving their community. Forty years ago the Yorkshire Evening Post had a staff of 1,350, eight editions and a daily circulation of 230,000. Today there are fewer than 400 and it has two editions a day. Further cuts and attacks on editorial is not the panacea for increased circulation.”
NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser Chris Morley said: “The editorial teams in Johnston Press’s titles have been subjected to constant job attrition over a number of years and our members’ ability to produce quality journalism has been severely eroded in that time. These latest cuts are extremely worrying, not only in the signal they give about the company’s commitment to quality and localism in its content, but also the brutal treatment to which staff are being subjected. The NUJ will not stand idly by where its members are attacked in this way.”
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