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Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

THE CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF JOURNALISTS (CIoJ) says Northcliffe’s move is a serious attack on standards within the profession


RELEASE DATE: 10 November 2010

Northcliffe is planning a reduction in the number of copy-subs at its production centres. Reporters will be asked to write directly onto pages, being given a pre-set length for the story. This is already the case at two other large media companies, Johnston Press and Archant.

The proposals will lead to a reorganisation of the six production ‘hubs’ which were set up only last year. The production centres, known as ‘hubs’, thought to be most at risk are South West hub at Plymouth, the West Midlands hub at Stoke, and the East Midlands hub in Nottingham.

The CIoJ said: “This is a personal tragedy for every journalist who loses his or her job, but it is much more far-reaching than that. The union views the removal of this vital tier of checks, carried out by sub-editors, to be a serious detriment to the standards of our local newspapers.

“Reporters, who are already working hard to produce copy for print, on-line and video platforms, are now being expected to sub-edit their own copy as well. Headline writing is a skill in itself, yet reporters are being asked to perform this task too, often with little or no training.

“Clearly this can only lead to more errors creeping into stories, lowering the standards which readers have rightly come to expect from their local Press.

“We are aware of the need to make economies in these difficult times, but it is likely that the loss of a whole raft of experienced journalists like this will prove to be a false economy.

“Advertisers and readers alike may well lose confidence in newspapers as a result of this lowering of standards, and this will cost them dear in terms of much-needed revenue.

“Managers also need to factor-in the cost of expensive legal fees due to more mistakes getting into print, which may end up in court.”

“So many senior journalists are either being made redundant or walking out after seeing what is happening to their papers, that we are now seeing a serious drain in talent and experience in our profession. This leeching of expertise can only weaken the newspapers they leave behind. It will have serious consequences for the companies themselves, who will soon find it impossible to recruit staff of the calibre they require.”