Further job cuts at the York Press as more journalism is moved out of the city

Core of journalism being lost… the Press on Walmgate, York. Photograph: Richard McDougall
4 May 2015 @ 8.08 pm
| News

Further jobs are being lost at the York Press as more of the journalism is shipped out of the city.

The newspaper is already edited from Bradford by Perry Austin-Clarke, also the editor of the Bradford Telegraph & Argus. Much of the Press‘s sub-editing and page layout is done in Newport, South Wales.

Now six more journalism roles are going at York, four of them on the Press – the deputy sports editor, the web editor, the part-time digital community publisher and a newsroom assistant.

Also going from the Walmgate offices are the editor and deputy editor of the weekly Ryedale paper, the Gazette & Herald. This too will now be edited in Bradford.

Meanwhile the roles of Press chief sub editor, night production editor, features editor and content editor will transfer to Bradford.

The journalists in these roles, including Press columnist Julian Cole, will either have to work in Bradford or take redundancy.

Changes are due to come into effect on June 1, 2015.

Sport production moves out

Francine Clee
Francine Clee
Press deputy editor Francine Clee is leaving. YorkMix understands that her role will be taken by Stuart Martel, currently the sports editor, and that all sports production on the York paper will be undertaken in Bradford.

News and sports reporters, feature writers and photographers will remain in York.

The cuts have been announced by the paper’s parent company Newsquest. Altogether 25 roles are to go across the company’s centres in York, Bradford and Darlington – where The Northern Echo is published.

Ten new roles are being created, including eight in newspaper production at Bradford. A new post for York is that of social media editor, in charge of user-generated content, or “UGC”.

Staff at the paper’s Walmgate HQ are said to be “shell-shocked” over the loss to the city of journalists with well over a century of experience serving York between them.

It’s another nail in the integrity and credibility of what could still be a fine paper serving the people of York.

But they don’t seem to be that bothered about serving the people of York. It’s serving their American paymasters and protecting their own dividends.

– York Press journalist

The journalist told YorkMix that the weekly Business Press supplement is now designed to the same template as the Bradford Telegraph & Argus and it is widely predicted that the whole York paper will switch to the T&A template.

‘Hurting the quality of journalism’

Flashback to February 2014, when Press journalists went on strike in protest at plans to move editorial jobs to Wales. Photograph: Richard McDougall
Flashback to February 2014, when Press journalists went on strike in protest at plans to move editorial jobs to Wales. Photograph: Richard McDougall

Chris Morley, northern and midlands organiser for the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), said the new cuts “come as part of an endless stream of painful job losses and reduced pay and terms and conditions in recent years”.

The York Press “is now run 45 miles away from Bradford and daily production of most pages was exported to another country – Wales – just a year ago.

“Now they have come for more redundancies among staff that have more than a century of local knowledge and experience.

“How on earth do the accountants driving this programme think the people of York will be well-served by their actions?”

He said the impact would be felt across the city.

Losing a core of experience will inevitably hurt the quality of journalism our members who are left will be able to produce.

Inevitably that leaves the Press readers and the community in general all the poorer.

The NUJ is holding a meeting with Press journalists on Tuesday (May 5). Chris called on the readers of the paper to make their feelings known.

We will fight on behalf of our members to retain the best quality journalism possible.

I would like to take this opportunity to call on the people of York to make their views known on this to Perry Austin-Clarke, the distant Bradford editor in charge of The Press at [email protected] and to copy me in at [email protected].”

Chris said that the “loyal staff at the Press have endured five years of effective pay cuts with salaries being frozen” while the boss of Newsquest owner, US-based Gannett, “was lavished with a £7.5 million pay package last year”.

“The Press is still profitable but the demands to make super profits is leading local bosses to do what had been previously unthinkable.”

Newsquest statement

We asked Newsquest regional managing director David Coates to respond to the concerns in York. He has yet to reply.

David did issue a statement to journalism industry website Hold The Front Page. This is what it says.

“Over the course of the coming weeks we propose to make some changes to the structure of our editorial operations in York, Bradford and Darlington which we believe will help us meet the increasing demands of our growing online audience while at the same time placing the business on a more sustainable footing.

“The changes will result in some job losses but new roles will also be created.

“By consolidating production management of our newspapers in one regional centre, and centralising both daily and weekly content management in each centre, we believe we will be better able to manage the volume of work involved in producing our titles.

“Under the proposals, York-based and Darlington-based production roles would transfer to the Bradford production management centre.

“The company will be exploring ways of avoiding compulsory redundancies and minimising the number of employees affected. We propose that these changes come into effect from 1 June 2015.

“With immediate effect we are entering into a period of consultation with those who may be affected by this proposal.”