Monday 8 December 2008

Harry Conroy tells Newsquest: 'The Herald is not just another regional paper'

Former NUJ general secretary Harry Conroy has expressed his anger at Newsquest's plans to merge the editorial operations at The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times and make the journalists on the three papers redundant and reapply for their jobs. Up to 40 editorial posts are expected to be axed on the Glasgow papers.
Conroy, who has worked for both The Herald and Evening Times, says in a comment piece on allmediascotland: "Saddened, shocked, angry are just some of the emotions I felt when I read about the Newsquest attempt to bring their three titles under one umbrella and its demand that its journalists apply for their jobs back. We are talking here about more than a business, we are talking about an integral part of the democratic process.
"It is now more important than ever that Scotland, with its own parliament, is served by a diverse and high quality media. Newsquest have been accused before of treating The Herald in particular as just another regional paper. It is not. It serves a nation with its own legal system and a parliament which legislates.
"Newsquest should be told loud and clear to step back, to improve their industrial relations, and prove their commitment to Scotland and their titles. Democracy cannot be reduced to the size of their bank balance which is already showing a healthy profit from their Scottish titles. This move must be defeated."
Harry Conroy raises an important point. The Herald is seen as a national title in Scotland, hence Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond getting involved and urging Newsquest to rethink its plans. There is resentment in Scotland that Newsquest is simply applying the same template of cost cutting in Glasgow as it is to its regional titles in England. The Herald, and for that matter The Scotsman, have never seen themselves as "regional" newspapers.
HoldtheFrontPage reports today that Johnston Press is exploring a possible merger of production and photographic departments at its three Edinburgh-based newspapers, which may lead to job cuts. Evening News editor John McLellan has been charged with collating a report on production processes and picture desk at The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and his own paper by the end of the week. Johnston Press has consistently denied rumours that The Scotsman is for sale.

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