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July 25, 2018

Northern Echo newsroom facing nine redundancies as Newsquest plans to merge reporting teams

By Sam Forsdick

Nine editorial roles at the Northern Echo are at risk as Newsquest announces plans to merge four reporting teams into two to “deliver efficiencies and reduce costs”.

The decision to merge the Darlington and Tees Valley, North Durham, South Durham and North Yorkshire news teams into North and South teams will put four chief reporter roles at risk of redundancy.

But two more will be created, one for each news team, under the plans leaving a net loss of seven staff if the cuts go ahead.

Other roles at risk are those of listings editor, special features co-ordinator, features writer, business editor and regional reporter.

The proposed changes are anticipated to come into place by 17 August 2018.

The Newsquest-owned regional daily is based in Darlington and covers the areas of North Yorkshire, County Durham and Teeside.

Current editor Andy Richardson is set to step down at the end of the month and will be replaced by deputy editor Hannah Chapman.

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In a message to staff announcing the changes, seen by Hold the Front Page, Richardson said: “As you are aware the company continues to look at all functions and disciplines across the business and where appropriate implement re-organisations or consolidations of functions to deliver efficiencies and reduce costs.

“There is a need to reduce costs and deliver efficiencies in Darlington, and as a result the company is proposing to restructure the editorial team.”

He said there remained a vacancy for a deputy head of content following Chapman’s promotion to the joint role of editor and head of content, but a vacancy for a senior reporter would not be replaced.

Richardson said Newsquest would, as a matter of policy, “avoid unnecessary redundancy wherever possible” and is undertaking consultations with affected staff “to discuss potential ways of doing so”.

A Newsquest spokesperson said: “We continue to look for ways to run our business in Darlington more efficiently to ensure that our titles have a sustainable cost structure for the future.

“Whilst any potential redundancies are regrettable, it means we can continue to invest in frontline reporters which are central to the continued success of our publishing business.”

Publication of the Northern Echo’s sister paper, the Darlington Despatch, was suspended by Newsquest in June after being relaunched nine months ago. It is not being published over the summer and is undergoing a review.

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