NUJ launches campaign against local newspaper cuts

THE Scottish Parliament is to be lobbied as part of a UK-wide protest against job cuts at local newspapers.

Says the National Union of Journalists – as it yesterday announced a nationwide campaign against the cuts – some 500 journalists posts have been axed or left unfilled at local newspaper groups since June, resulting in more than 30 local newspaper offices being closed and 50-plus titles being shut.

It adds that job cuts are often taking place at profitable groups.

The campaign follows an emergency meeting, at the weekend, of union reps from across the country – including from Johnston Press, Trinity Mirror and Newsquest. A day of action against the cuts is also being organised.

Says NUJ General Secretary, Jeremy Dear: “Instead of greater investment in quality online content, more localised coverage and strengthened editorial teams, for years the vast profits of local newspapers have been largely shovelled in to shareholders’ pockets, directors’ pay rises and executive pension pots, amidst reckless borrowing and poor investment decisions.

“Now the very people who plunged the industry in to this crisis by demanding such excessive profits believe the solution is to axe journalists and freeze pay. They were spectacularly wrong in the past and are spectacularly wrong again. It is a false economy to put the ability to deliver scoops, quality content and strong local coverage in jeopardy.

“Local newspapers in print and online remain viable and profitable businesses. We can’t stand by and see this profiteering destroy our industry.

“The question needs to be asked what have they done with the billions of pounds of profits in the last ten years? If you ran your family budgets in such a way you would risk ending up homeless and penniless. It is right to ask then are these people fit to run an industry which is so important to local communities.”

The union has also urged editors to work alongside journalists to “defend editorial independence and integrity”.

The campaign timetable has still to be announced.