Newspapers In Turmoil: Kent Messenger Cuts; Indie Strike; Johnston Strike


When will newspaper cuts end? Probably around the same time advertising revenues return to pre-crunch levels and newspapers find more sure-fire ways to monetise growing online traffic. But back in reality, we’re a long way from that: the independent Kent Messenger Group is cutting 159 jobs — 32 in editorial — according to PG. District offices in Folkestone and Thanet are being considered for closure and printing and distribution will be outsourced. None of KM Group’s 10 newspapers are going to be shut, though the job cuts could come from any of them or the KMFM series of local radio stations.

This is phase two of a restructuring that saw 64 staff leave in September and closure of four district offices. The company says it simply has no option but cuts is workforce, such is the volatility of regional media right now. KM Group has another. Trinity Mirror (LSE: TNI) CEO Sly Bailey spoke this week of preparing for a “survival of the fittest” in newspapers, so here’s a few more flashpoints in the battle to keep print titles afloat…

Independent: National Union of Journalists members at The Independent and Independent on Sunday have voted to go on strike for two hours next Friday from 5pm to 7pm, right in the middle of probably the busiest period of the week as journalists and editors prepare the larger Saturday editon. The NUJ claims staff are unhappy about plans to impose voluntary redundancies in its plans to reduce headcount by 60 — a quarter of staff. The union alleges that the company is refusing some staff permission to apply for the voluntary redundancy scheme — so compulsory cuts are now on table unless a solution can be found. It’s not on the same level as the series of 24-hour walkouts staged by Express Newspapers last year — they were there first full-day walkout in national newspapers for 18 years — but industrial action on the nationals is rare and this is a real sign of the times.

Johnston Press: Compulsory redundancies are the sticking point at two Johnston Press titles: journalists at the Yorkshire Evening Post and Yorkshire Post are in the middle of a second four-day strike over 18 job cuts and they will now be joined in industrial action by colleagues at the Derry Journal. Last year Johnston proposed a plan centralise production into one office for all its Northern Ireland papers — the same papers that are now officially up for sale. Perhaps a ploy to make them more attractive to reluctant investors…

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