An editor who spent 32 years with Johnston Press-owned weekly the Haverhill Echo is claiming that making him redundant amounted to age discrimination.
HTFP is carrying copy from David Hart’s employment tribunal at which he has argued: “They decided to make me redundant to save money and then tried to work out how to cover my job”. Hart, 56, claims Johnston Press did not go through a proper consultation before selecting him for redundancy.
Following Hart’s departure, is job was combined with the editor of the Bury Free Press.
Hart used his last column for the paper in October last year to attack management tactics of companies like Johnston Press.
“…somewhere along the line newspaper companies seem to have lost sight of the fact that they didn’t create these businesses.
“These giants are just agglomerates put together by directors who wanted to expand their empires and supposedly also for the benefit of shareholders who wanted bigger and bigger dividends.
“Well, rather like in the banking business, we now see this was a bit of a bubble which was always going to be pricked one day.
“…the trend now is to look at an editor in the same way as any other manager within the business. The finance manager manages the finance, the distribution manager manages the distribution, the advertising manager manages the advertising and the editor… becomes the content manager.
“Rather than reacting to news, for which it helps to be part of the local community, he is now expected to manage it, which can be done from anywhere.
“Inconveniently for company managers, news is annoyingly resource-heavy, as it doesn’t directly bring in any money and is difficult to staff because it has an awkward habit of happening unpredictably.
“I think it was Malcolm Muggeridge who said that an editor should be like a man with a white stick, tapping his way blindly through events first in order to try to guide others coming after.
“I guess the world has moved on and now it can be managed, like CCTV monitoring, at a distance – probably Bangalore, eventually.
“All I can say is that I have enormously enjoyed tapping my way blindly through the series of events which have befallen Haverhill and surrounding district over the past few decades, and if I have enabled anyone else to follow them more clearly, I am more than satisfied.”