Friday 27 February 2009

Newspaper crisis latest: Up to 40 journalists jobs to go at Kent Messenger Group

Staff at the Kent Messenger Group have been told more than 150 more jobs could go at the independently owned newspaper company in a new round of job cuts.
Around 35 to 40 editorial staff could be made redundant after a period of consultation and it is also proposed that editorial offices at Folkestone and Thanet are to be closed.
The news was broken to staff at meetings yesterday afternoon.The company is also considering "outsourcing" its printing. Staff have been assured that the company wants to remain independent and is not considering selling any titles.
The Kent Messenger Group announced last September that it was making 60 redundancies and closing six regional offices because of "unsustainable annual trading losses".
One KMG source said: "People are very shocked by the news. We know this is the way the industry is at the moment but people are taken back by the number of proposed redundancies."
Update 9am:The KMG Group said:"The plan involves consultation with staff over 95 roles at risk, as well as a further 64 roles affected by outsourcing. The economic climate has deteriorated since phase 1 of the restructure it completed in the Autumn."
In its statement to staff, the company said it has to take action “to survive and thrive” in current and future markets.
As part of the proposal, the Group is planning to outsource its printing, mailroom and newspaper and leaflet distribution operations, as well as closing the offices in Folkestone and Thanet.
KMG managing director Graham Mead said that the company had no option but to move to the next stage of its restructure plan. “If we had any other option but redundancies we would take it, but the reality is that we have to restructure our business to be able to operate efficiently in this challenging environment and to position ourselves for the future.
“We will still have around 400 staff and believe we will still provide the best media service in Kent for all of our readers, listeners, visitors and customers.”
Chairman Geraldine Allinson said that the measures were necessary for the long term future of the company. “Our proposal to outsource our printing was a particularly difficult one to make with the company’s long and successful history of printing our own titles.”
The company said it plans to seve Folkestone and Thanet from KMG offices in Ashford and Whitstable. All the company’s newspapers, websites and radio stations will continue to be produced under the proposals, the company said.
The consultation will go on until April.

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