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February 26, 2019updated 27 Feb 2019 4:23pm

JPI Media to cut 22 staff from community teams following reduction in newspaper paginations

By James Walker

JPI Media is set to make a number of staff redundant across its specialised community news reporting teams, Press Gazette has learned.

The 22 full-time equivalent staff  based in regional hubs covering multiple titles are tasked with filling community pages with village news, leisure content and similar items.

JPI Media, formerly Johnston Press, said staff could apply for voluntary redundancy until 15 March.

Press Gazette understands staff were told that the planned redundancies were the result of cuts to newspaper paginations earlier this year and that more than 100 people work on the communities teams.

The publisher’s announcement comes less than a week after the i newspaper, its flagship national title, advertised for eight editorial jobs.

JPI Media said it would not comment on the matter.

NUJ national organiser Laura Davidson described the proposed cuts as a “cruel blow for journalists at JPI Media”.

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JPI Media took over regional publisher Johnston Press in a pre-pack administration deal last year, which gave it control of more than 200 titles.

The newly-formed publisher, set up by bondholders, includes New York-based hedge fund Golden Tree Asset Management.

Said Davidson: “At the very time when they hoped new owners would be investing to replace posts lost over consecutive years from hollowed out newsrooms, the axe has fallen once again.

“These cuts will do nothing to address rock bottom morale and persistently high stress levels. Our members at JPI Media will be getting together urgently to discuss these damaging proposals.”

 JPI Media increased the cover prices of several titles earlier this year.

It sent an email to staff last month warning that it had put its property portfolio under review – a move that could lead to office cutbacks, closures and relocations.

The publisher told staff it would be reviewing “space requirements” in Belfast, Peterborough, Sunderland and Harrogate and Cavendish Square in London.

But it added that it intended to keep offices in Preston, Sheffield, Stamford, Edinburgh, Leeds and Derry Street in London where The i newspaper is based.

The move has already led to Harrogate Advertiser staff relocating to a new office, affecting six employees.

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