'Heart-breaking blow' to Bolton News staff as Newsquest plans to cut ten journalists amid rising profits - Press Gazette

'Heart-breaking blow' to Bolton News staff as Newsquest plans to cut ten journalists amid rising profits

Newsquest has announced plans to cut ten jobs from the Daily Bolton news and its weekly sister titles.

According to the National Union of Journalists the move will lead to nearly a quarter of the editorial workforce being cut.

And it comes after Newsquest last year reported on operating profit of £3.4m in its wider North West division (up from £2.6m in 2013). This was on total turnover of £29.3m in 2014 (down from £30.7m in 2013).

The ten jobs at risk in Bolton include (according to the NUJ): three photographers, two feature writers, a news editor, one sport content editor/writer, one content editor, an editorial content assistant and a graphic artist.

No cuts are expected on the reporting team.

Staff affected work on the daily Bolton News as well as the weekly Leigh Journal, Bury Times, Radcliffe Times and Prestwich and Whitefield Guide. They have been given until next Tuesday afternoon to apply for voluntary redundancy.

NUJ Father of Chapel at the Bolton News David Thomson sqaid: “The latest accounts for Newsquest (North West), of which Bolton is an integral part, show the company’s operating profit increased from £2.6 million to £3.4 million and staff costs fell by almost £2 million. So, this is a profitable company

"This is a devastating and heart-breaking blow to the dedicated and loyal editorial staff who have been rewarded for all their hard work with just one pay rise in the past seven years and, now, the worst round of redundancies I’ve ever encountered in my 13 years as FoC here.

“I have never seen my colleagues as stunned and sombre as they were following the announcement.”

He added: "I have asked for the company to fully justify the possible job losses. It is vital they make a tangible and legitimate case and back that up with proper, transparent facts and figures."

NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser Chris Morley said: "This horrendous news comes just over a week after it was revealed Newsquest directors had awarded themselves a 26 per cent rise in 'performance-related payments' to a third of a million pounds.

“If this is performance and success I really don't want to see the failures. Newsquest continue to astound with a 'ground zero' approach to producing news with the fewest professional journalists anyone could imagine. How the company expects the people of Bolton and other Newsquest towns and cities subjected to these savage cuts to come running for their products after this is beyond me.

"It makes a sick joke for our members in Bolton that Newsquest was awarded a bronze Investors In People award just last month. There is no excuse for this.

“Newsquest is very profitable nationally – in 2014 it made £60 million and is now debt-free – and locally it actually increased profits considerably. Newsquest has failed all its obligations as a business to staff, customers and readers. Its only success has been to expatriate big profits to its American shareholders."



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Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette