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July 3, 2013

Staff ‘shocked’ over closure of Sheffield’s 106-year-old sports newspaper

By Gavriel Hollander

The National Union of Journalists has expressed shock over the sudden closure of the Sheffield Star’s Saturday sports edition after more than 100 years.

According to the NUJ, staff at the Johnston Press title were told on Tuesday that the company was to consult on closing the print edition of the Green ‘Un, which was first publishing in 1907.

Johnston Press is understood to have told staff that no jobs would be at risk as it will retain an online version of the paper. But the NUJ said reporters were “stunned” over the announcement.

Chris Morley, northern and Midlands organiser for the NUJ, called on the publisher to consult with readers over the closure, calling the move “a mark of failure”.

He said: “For too long, senior newspaper executives with bloated salaries have been making decisions to close well-loved and widely admired titles after years of slowing bleeding them to death through lack of investment. Closure is a mark of their failure, not the failure of a title with a century-old tradition.

"Instead of getting paid as entrepreneurs growing their business, corporate terminators are showered with huge sums to hack off large parts of their own companies.

"The trouble is that they did not make these businesses. They therefore should not have the ability to snuff them out as publications on the streets without widespread and fullsome debate and consultation with the communities from where these titles emerged.

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"I challenge Johnston Press to engage with the people of Sheffield about the proposed loss of The Star's Green 'Un edition – and have the guts for once to invest properly in their printed products to make them a success in combination with the new publishing platforms that exist today.”

An announcement on the Star’s website said the Green ‘Un was “relaunching” online but did not mention the closure of the print edition, which had a weekly sale of just over 4,000 copies.

Star editor Jeremy Clifford said: “It is an exciting development in the history of the Green ‘Un, which will see it become far more immediate, responsive and reactive to what is going on in the footballing world.”

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