NUJ writes to every MS and Welsh MP calling for support as 90 Welsh media posts placed ‘at risk’

Some of Reach Plc’s newspapers in Wales

The National Union of Journalists has written to every Member of the Senedd and every Welsh MP asking for their support in a campaign against redundancy proposals announced by Reach plc, the largest publisher of newspapers in Wales.

Last week Reach told more than 90 of its journalists in Wales that they were at risk of losing their jobs because of lost revenues during the lockdown.

In a letter to all 100 parliamentarians, the union says the proposals pose “a grave threat to our media and to our Welsh democracy”.

In their letter, Martin Shipton and Sarah Hodgson of the NUJ call on the MPs and MSs to write to Alan Edmunds, a former editor of the Western Mail who is now Reach’s chief operating officer and one of the two senior executives behind the plans.

“As you know, Reach is by far the largest publisher of newspapers in Wales, with a stable that includes the Western Mail, the Daily Post, the South Wales Echo, the South Wales Post, Wales on Sunday and a number of associated weekly papers, as well as the news websites WalesOnline and North Wales Live,” they write.

“On July 7 Reach announced that because of diminished revenues during the lockdown, it was making 550 jobs across Britain redundant.

“On Friday, July 10 details began to emerge about the impact of this announcement in Wales. In Cardiff, more than 70 journalists were told their jobs are on a redundancy ‘at risk’ list, while in North Wales the number of ‘at risk’ journalists is 20.

“While the plan is for a smaller number of journalists to leave – around 15 from Media Wales in Cardiff and Swansea, we understand, with an as yet unknown additional number from North Wales – the reduction will inevitably have a detrimental impact on news coverage in our nation.

“NUJ members also have very serious concerns about the group’s commitment to Wales following a decision to effectively merge Media Wales – the Cardiff and Swansea operation – with an English division of Reach covering the Midlands, Cheshire and Lincolnshire.

“There is no longer an editor-in-chief based in Cardiff, and the new cross-border division will be run by a ‘Marketplace Publisher’ based in Birmingham.

“Meanwhile the editor of the Daily Post has been removed from his post at very short notice and the business is run by a Marketplace Publisher based in the north-west of England.

“There are also plans to integrate the work of journalists working in Wales with the London-based ‘national’ papers, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Express and the Daily Star, as well as their websites. At the same time, the intention is to replace stories and features produced by redundant writers who have been working in Wales with material produced by a “shared content” unit based in England.

“Inevitably this would dilute the Welsh content of the brands and lead to the publication of health and education stories, for example, that have no relevance in Wales because of the devolution settlement. It would create additional confusion in readers’ minds about which level of government was responsible for public services in Wales.

“We regard these proposals as a grave threat to our media and to our Welsh democracy.”

The letter asks the politicians to write to Mr Edmunds expressing their concerns.

 

‘Devastated’

Martin Shipton, Father of the Media Wales NUJ Chapel (office branch chair) in Cardiff and vice-chair of the union’s Welsh Executive Council, said he hoped politicians would help put pressure on Reach over the proposal.

“[It] not only threatens our members’ jobs but would deal a major blow to our media industry at a time when the need for reliable information and effective scrutiny of decision-makers is desperately needed,” he said.

“Our chapel is deeply concerned by the way members have been treated during this process, having been made to wait three days to hear if they are at risk and at this stage we are still none the wiser as to how we will truly be impacted or what Reach Plc’s plans are – adding additional and unnecessary stress to what is already a very upsetting situation.”

Sarah Hodgson, Mother of the Daily Post Chapel, said: “Our members are devastated by the news that our editor Andrew Campbell will be leaving the business.

“We feel that he is a talented, dedicated, and hardworking editor and colleague who genuinely cares about his staff; and we are worried about the impact his departure will have on the Daily Post newspaper and our website North Wales Live. He is respected not just by his colleagues, but also by the community of North Wales and groups we work with.

“Our chapel is deeply concerned by the way members have been treated during this process, having been made to wait three days to hear if they are at risk and at this stage we are still none the wiser as to how we will truly be impacted or what Reach Plc’s plans are – adding additional and unnecessary stress to what is already a very upsetting situation.”

Articles via Email

Get instant updates to your inbox

Comments are closed.