Johnston Press is closing offices for HB Times, Tod News & Brighouse Echo offices

Newsgathering in Calderdale is set to become patchy. Without any consultation with staff at Calderdale’s local papers, or their readers, Johnston Press, the owner of all Calderdale’s local newspapers, is proposing to:

  • close the offices of the area’s three local papers (Hebden Bridge Times, Todmorden News and Brighouse Echo)
  • redeploy staff to the Halifax Courier
  • turn the Halifax Courier from a daily to a weekly paper, plus a daily updated online version
  • impose at least nine compulsory editorial staff redundancies at the Halifax Courier, although no advertising staff jobs are at risk
A few years ago, Johnston Press took on a large amount of debt. The company, which owns a substantial proportion of the UK’s regional newspapers, turned a respectable profit last year but despite this is unable to sustain its debt burden. It is now imposing a swathe of deep cuts on regional papers across the UK.
In a company statement, Ashley Highfield, the newspaper group’s new chief executive, announced, “We are committed to remaining a local company: that means local journalists and sales people working across the UK and Republic of Ireland, staying close to the communities and businesses they serve.”

But Barry Fitzpatrick, NUJ deputy general secretary says, “I hope that [Johnston Press] isn’t rushing into an ill-thought-out strategy because it is being put under pressure by the banks.”

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “The NUJ is now looking to meet Ashley Highfield at the earliest possible opportunity.We are not against looking at innovative solutions to changes in the newspaper industry, but the lack of consultation with staff and the union is not the way to go about it.We will robustly fight any compulsory redundancies.”

Johnston Press staff in the Halifax Courier NUJ Chapel are due to meet the Midland and Northern NUJ organiser Chris Morley tomorrow (Wednesday 18th April).

Readers and reporters demonstrate against cuts to Bristol Evening Post

In Bristol, readers and reporters are demonstrating today (Tuesday 17th April) against cuts   by Northcliffe, the owner of the Bristol Evening Post. 20 jobs could go when the Bristol Evening Post scraps its Saturday edition and goes down to a five editions a week. Bristol NUJ Branch says, “…many people – not just journalists – seem to realise that newsgathering in our city is approaching a crisis point.

“How can the city’s only dedicated daily newspaper provide proper coverage when staffing is reduced by a further third, to fewer than 40 journalists? Six years ago there were close to 190 journalists on the Post, Western Daily Press and Observer.

“Companies  such as Northcliffe are happy to take fat profit margins for their shareholders from Bristol when times were good – indeed, the Post is still making a profit.But when times get tough, the returns to shareholders continue while Bristol journalists lose their jobs, those left have to work even harder, and the wider community realises it is not going to get proper coverage.”


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