Newsquest has parted company with the editors, publishers and managing directors of several newspapers in the north of England as part of a management restructure.
Westmorland Gazette editor and publisher Mike Glover, Sale and Altrincham Messenger publisher Nuala O’Rourke and Newsquest Cheshire and Merseyside managing director Eleanor Underhill all left the company yesterday, a source at the regional newspaper group confirmed.
Meanwhile York Press editor Kevin Booth; Chris Buxton, editor of York-based weekly Gazette and Herald series; and Newsquest York managing director Steve Hughes have also been given notice of redundancy and invited to apply for the new single role of managing editor across the division.
Press Gazette also understands that management at Newsquest Bradford, publisher of the Telegraph and Argus, have said they are looking to cut up to 10 per cent of the editorial staff there.
And in Darlington, NUJ members at the Northern Echo have given notice of a ballot for industrial action over 17 proposed editorial redundancies there.
Newsquest North East regional managing director David Coates was unavailable to comment on the piecemeal reports of cutbacks that have emerged this week.
A source at the publisher told Press Gazette that Coates would be meeting affected staff ‘over the next few days’to discuss the changes.
NUJ assistant organiser fort he north of Englandd Jenny Lennox said there did not appear to be any ‘co-ordinated plan’from Newsquest management, and described the cuts as ‘sporadic”.
‘Newsquest has a very odd structure because they have publishers in some small local units, they have MDs and then they have regional MDs. There is quite a bit of duplication,’she said.
‘I’m not entirely sure they know what they’re doing – it’s a very rapid process getting rid of these people.There doesn’t seem to be a co-ordinated plan.”
The union has also expressed concern about what the new managing editor role in York will entail.
‘It’s a big job and there’s a real issue about the editorial guidance of the publication when you’ve got one person trying to run a weekly and a daily,’Lennox added.
Last week, managers at the Newsquest-owned Northern Echo announced a pay freeze, the closure of five district offices and the axing of 50 jobs – 17 in editorial.
This represents about a sixth of the total number of journalists employed on the Northern Echo and its associated weeklies.
People who volunteer for redundancy will be told by 5 December if their application has been accepted.
The five district offices to close are Stockton, Redcar, Barnard Castle, Richmond and Thirsk.
NUJ northern regional organiser Chris Morley said in a statement: “We are seeing a wholesale withdrawal of local newspapers from communities across the north-east of England.”
A Newsquest spokeswoman was unavailable for comment.