Northcliffe stood out as the only one of the big four regional groups not to be imposing major job cuts - until today. The NUJ says that it was told this morning the company is seeking to cut 45 posts at the Western Daily Press and Evening Post in Bristol.
The scale of the cuts, says the union, has "staggered" members of the NUJ chapel who will be meeting on Monday. The plans were announced at 10am today.
HoldtheFrontPage , part owned by Northcliffe, reports: "Although it will remain a paid-for title, the WDP is set to become a "Metro-style" publication with fewer dedicated reporters and photographers. Instead it will "harvest" content from other Northcliffe-owned publications around the western region.
"The WDP website, www.westerndailypress.co.uk is also set to be scrapped after managers concluded the title had "no digital future. Instead it will point to the group's other, more successful regional portals, www.thisisbristol, www.thisissomerset and www.thisisgloucestershire.
"However the Bristol centre is to pilot what is expected to become a Northcliffe-wide initiative to turn the thisis sites into "hubs" of local information as well as newspaper companion sites, pulling in content from a wide variety of sources. A single digital production desk is to be created along with the single print content and production desks. "
The Bristol centre employs 154 people of which up to 45 could lose their jobs under today's proposals. Although reporting and photographic roles on the WDP are under threat, editor-in-chief Mike Norton has stressed that most of the cutbacks will fall on production as opposed to newsgathering roles, HTFP says.
According to the NUJ, in 2007 Bristol News and Media, Northcliffe’s local division, made profits of £7.5 million. Tim Lezard, NUJ National Executive Council member for the South West of England, said: “These are cuts that don’t need to be made. It’s an example of Northcliffe’s contempt for their readers, workers and advertisers. The company would rather bow to its boardroom than serve the community it has been an integral part of for 150 years.”
While the other members of the "big four" regional groups - Newsquest, Johnston Press and Trinity Mirror - have made widespread cuts in the current econmic crisis, Northcliffe has announced nothing on the scale of Bristol.
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