Johnston Press is ‘a group that bases itself on localness’, its chief operating officer has said – despite announcing plans to centralise subbing and cut 49 jobs.
The group’s Midlands division plans to create three ‘centralised sub-editing operations’in Northampton, Peterborough, and Milton Keynes.
Sub-editing in Leamington, Banbury, Rugby and Daventry would move to Northampton; sub-editing at Lincolnshire Newspapers and Anglia Newspapers would move to Peterborough; and sub-editing at Buckingham, Aylesbury and Hemel Hempstead would move to Milton Keynes.
Despite Leamington being 28 miles from Northampton, and Hemel Hempstead being 33 miles from Milton Keynes, Johnston Press’s chief operating officer Danny Cammiade, said localness was vital – and added there were no plans to move reporters.
‘Johnston Press is a newspaper group that bases itself on its localness,’he told Press Gazette. ‘It would be quite a surprise if we did anything different than keeping our reporters close to the markets.”
He also denied rumours that reporters were to be renamed ‘content gatherers”.
‘Reporters are reporters,’he said. ‘That [rumour] is a red herring.”
A Johnston Press statement said: ‘In the event that the proposals go ahead, we anticipate there will be up to 49 potential redundancies which we will endeavour to minimise through voluntary severance and redeployment.”
Johnston Press Midlands managing director Nick Mills said: ‘Our objective is always to ensure that our newspapers and websites remain at the heart of their communities.
‘The proposed changes will ensure the efficient continued delivery of high quality, local content across our many news delivery channels.”
Cammiade said decisions on which papers would be affected would be part of the consultation.
‘These decisions aren’t taken lightly,’he added. ‘You will know as well as anyone the difficult situation everyone is facing.”
Johnston Press has a reported debt of £450m. In December, along with Newsquest and Trinity Mirror, it announced a group-wide pay freeze, and in January, new chief executive John Fry was met by 80 protesting journalists on a visit to Leeds.