News Letter to merge departments with other newly acquired titles

The News Letter in Belfast is proposing to close the pre-press department in Belfast and centralise other departments between the News Letter and weekly titles recently acquired by Johnston Press.

In September, Johnston acquired Morton Newspapers from Score Press, which publishes 17 weekly and five free titles including Londonderry's North West Echo, the Ulster Star and Portadown Times.

Production would be moved to the purpose-built production centre in Portadown, within 30 miles of the News Letter's Boucher Crescent offices. It is unclear what impact the move would have on editorial jobs.

Speaking to Press Gazette earlier this month about his appointment as News Letter editor, Darwin Templeton said: "It's obvious there's going to have to be some rationalisation."

Johnston Press has also announced it could close two printing presses in Belfast and in the Northwest, resulting in 17 printing job losses.

Jean Long, divisional managing director, said the presses did not meet market requirements.

She said: "It is therefore proposed to utilise printing facilities elsewhere in the group or at a third party supplier, which will give our titles more colour and improved quality.

"As a result of this decision, it is also proposed to close the current premises in Boucher Crescent, but in order to reinforce the News Letter's commitment to Belfast, a new office is planned in the heart of the city, which will be more accessible to our readers and advertisers. Johnston will now enter into consultation with affected staff at the presses."

■ Johnston has also announced that its print press in Hartlepool could close and the Hartlepool Mail be printed on the presses in Sunderland, in which the company has recently invested.

The Sunderland site is approximately 13 miles from Hartlepool and it is unlikely the move will dramatically affect print times. No editions will be dropped from the Mail.

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