IF you work for a newspaper, it is apparently the word you should dread the most: ‘Hub, we’re are setting up a hub’. It’s like getting a pirate’s black spot. An editor who is out on strike with his journalists in South Yorkshire warns that ‘hub’ has become a byword for simply getting rid of a newspaper’s sub-editors, a trendy name for a set up with less people. Jim Oldfield, editor at the South Yorkshire Times, spoke at Conway Hall in Holborn last night during a meeting organised by the National Union of Journalists.
With his paper sustaining cutbacks to staff and resources, Mr Oldfield has been told his own position is in peril by chiefs at Johnston Press – one of the large groups that run most regional newspapers in the United Kingdom. He warned staff didn’t want to stay around too long at local newspapers because they felt messed about or underpaid and the result of that would be our regionals losing all ‘real news’ – replaced with “just stories about children and dogs”. Already, Mr Oldfield said, reporters were writing their own headlines and pages were not all being proofed to save costs. It was a grim picture.
“Ask yourselves why we cant attract or keep the people who are the ones that we need to provide the stories that keep this country free,” he told the meeting. “It is nothing less than a scandal. In some ways we really welcome the News Of The World saga because it turned the spotlight on journalism in all its forms.” This from the editor who wrote about his own paper’s strife on the front page...
Exhibit A: last week’s CNJ editorial.
Exhibit B: Camden Council’s ‘magazine’
I never get why journalists get so caught up with council magazines. Not all public information is carried by local papers, because it is not deemed newsworthy. Councils need to communicate sometimes prosaic information.
Also on important local policy issues such as education or schools, where – for example – your editor wrote a shockingly bad, distorted, very poorly (more like,’zero’) researched and sloppy piece of journalism we need to set the record straight (either by council publication or other means).
The real reason why local newspapers are losing out is the internet, as with other content-providers local papers havent found a way to deal with this.
Clearly council magazines and local papers can co-exist. People also look for other sources of information on council happening – such as the ‘we are camden’ website, which I think is rather good – next I suppose the New Jounral will be mounting a critique of this form of communiocation too?
Ah, the time machine back to 2005/6…
Exactly. Change the record Richard.
Given what happened in 2006, no doubt you’d like to..