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National World to cut 25 editorial jobs with 14 roles created – NUJ

Staff were said to have been "completely shocked and blindsided" by the announcement.

By Charlotte Tobitt

National World has put 46 editorial staff at risk of redundancy, according to the National Union of Journalists.

The company has said 25 full-time equivalent roles will be closed and 14 new roles will be created, according to the union, which estimated that 46 editorial staff have been put at risk of redundancy and 11 people could be left without roles after the consultation period ends.

Press Gazette understands that a number of the redundancies affect the group’s national news brand, also called National World.

Press Gazette also understands that deputy editor and audience editor positions at several of the publisher’s legacy titles, including the Portsmouth News, Edinburgh Evening News, Sheffield Star and Yorkshire Evening Post, have also been put at risk.

One source, who asked to remain anonymous, told Press Gazette: “Staff are completely shocked and blindsided by this move, no one saw it coming. I expect a lot of staff will now look to leave, even if their job isn’t at risk.”

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A second source told Press Gazette: “From recruitment freezes that have left staff struggling to cope to this latest wave of redundancies, morale is now at an all-time low. 

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“Many of the staff in the firing line are some of the most experienced in the business and are serving on the company’s former flagship papers. All that vital patch knowledge, built over years, is now at risk of being annihilated.”

The source added that they felt the company was “killing the reputation and credibility of local papers that have served their communities for decades” with “clickbait, SEO tosh”.

National World was founded at the end of 2020 when ex-Local World chief executive David Montgomery bought JPI Media, including its legacy newspaper titles such as the Yorkshire Post and The Scotsman, for £10.2m.

Since then it has launched a series of new city websites covering Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, London and Newcastle, and a national website with the same name as the company. The National World website became the company’s biggest site by page views a year after its launch.

The company employed 722 editorial staff on average in 2022, according to its annual report.

Staff told: Accept 4.5% pay deal or forfeit back pay, NUJ says

The NUJ said the redundancy announcement came in the same week that the company allegedly gave staff an “ultimatum on pay”. The union reported that staff were told to accept a 4.5% pay increase offer by 30 June or forfeit backpay to the 1 April review date. The NUJ National World group chapel said the approach was “disgraceful”, claiming the slow progress was down to the company’s “refusal to enter into any meaningful talks at local or national level”.

The group chapel also said: “Our members are extremely angry about the proposed redundancies and associated restructuring, not least because the company does not appear to have fully thought through how the changes will work in practice. We have significant concerns about the wellbeing of members in the teams where cuts are proposed and fail to see how forcing out experienced staff will help the company to reach its goals for audience growth.”

The statement added that some affected staff reportedly had less than 24 hours to prepare for their consultation meetings.

Laura Davison, NUJ national newspaper organiser, said: “The news of job cuts came out of the blue to National World members and has left them feeling shocked and angry. It is only a matter of days since the company sat in pay negotiation meetings with reps and said that increasing this year’s pay offer could put jobs at risk. There has been no increase and now jobs are at risk anyway.”

Davison added that £1.36m is due to be paid out to National World shareholders next month in their first dividend, with Montgomery saying last month this would recognise the company’s “significant progress over the last two years”, and she noted that the company has made multiple acquisitions in 2023 so far: Rotherham Advertiser, B2B publisher Insider Media,  digital football publisher Scoop Dragon, video-first and World of Women’s Sport publisher News Chain, and the 155-year-old Newry Reporter newspaper in Northern Ireland. Montgomery said in May more acquisitions would come in the “coming months”.

National World declined to comment.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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