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September 1, 2017updated 06 Sep 2017 2:42pm

Oldham Evening Chronicle closure was ‘bolt from the blue’ to staff who were ‘clinically dismissed’ says union

By Freddy Mayhew

The closure of the Oldham Evening Chronicle yesterday as its owners went into administration came as a “bolt from the blue” to staff, according to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).

The 163-year-old title’s sudden closure yesterday has resulted in the majority of its 49 staff being made redundant. A buyer is currently being sought by administrators KPMG.

Chris Morley, NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser, said: “This dreadful news came as a bolt from the blue to our members and they were given no inkling about what they would be told when summoned to a meeting.

“There are big questions as to how a significant daily newspaper can be allowed to go under in this way and leave so many staff without a livelihood.”

He added: “I would invite potential buyers to step in quickly to preserve the key assets of the paper – namely its crucial journalistic talent with the experience of serving the people of Oldham with distinction for so many years.

“The union will be assessing how best we can help our members who have been clinically dismissed with no notice or consultation.”

Owners Hirst, Kidd and Rennie also published four monthly free titles, including the Oldham Extra, Saddleworth Extra, Tameside Extra and the Dale Times, and three quarterly A4 magazines: Oldham Business Edge, The Knowledge and Primary Knowledge. All have ceased publication.

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Administrators said the company had folded as a result of an increasing pension deficit and “the challenging trading conditions arising from the changing nature of the local media landscape”.

News of the closure has prompted an outpouring of sympathy from politicians, journalists and readers online.

Labour & Co-op MP for Oldham West & Royton Jim McMahon said: “Devastating for Oldham Evening Chronicle staff, our town and journalism. I hope it can be saved.”

Member of Parliament for Oldham East & Saddleworth Debbie Abrahams said: “Extremely saddened to learn that @OldhamChronicle after 163 years has ceased publication, w/ 49 staff made redundant.”

TV broadcaster John Stapleton said: “So sad to hear demise of my home town paper, training ground and community watchdog @oldhamchronicle. Another blow for democracy.”

Huddersfield Examiner editor Wayne Ankers‏ said: “So sad to hear of closure of my local paper The Oldham Chronicle. Thoughts with all staff & thanks for launching my journo career 24 yrs ago.”

Manchester Evening News editor Rob Irvine said: “Sad day for journalism in the North West – best wishes to editor David Whaley @DRWChronicle and his team.”

Oldham Chronicle features editor Paul Genty‏ said: “@OldhamChronicle So long after 163 years, and thanks for all the fish, everyone. You enjoyed reading it, but sadly not enough.”

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