Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Here we go again on our own...

Well, well, well, just when we thought it was safe to come out from under the desk (where we all hide from time to time in the hope of avoiding the MD's eyes when he's playing ennie-meenie-minie-mo to select the next round of redundencies) it appears Northcliffe have once again opened that particular can of 'further efficiencies' worms...

Yep, another 50-plus subbing jobs are set to go across the Northcliffe stable in a fresh bid to save (and make) even more money.

While many business gurus will say that these things will happen in "times of economic downturns" and other such bollocks, the previous set of redundancies and creation of subbing 'hubs' seems also to have been abandoned, suggesting at best shortsightedness, at worst, a complete balls up of a business plan.

Why, all of a sudden, would a decision taken - at great expense and moral-sapping staff costs - less than 12 months ago, suddenly be a bad idea?

I just don't understand it.

And nor, it appears, does anyone at Northcliffe.

Just read that information again...

"The Plymouth hub is set to lose all responsibility for production of the Plymouth Herald, Torquay Herald Express, Exeter Express and Echo and Mid-Devon Gazette, all of which may move to Bristol."

So, that makes sense, they're moving Plymouth away from Plymouth and up to Bristol, which will, obviously, potentially see the need to lose a few subs from Plymouth.


"Around 20 of the job losses are likely to occur at the Bristol hub, with responsibility for producing the Western Daily Press and Western Morning News moving to Plymouth."

Right, so the production of these newspapers are swapping 'hubs', yet that means staff can be lost?

How? This is not explained. Why would it not make sense to just leave them where they are and cut staff, rather than, as the evidence above indicates to me, swap some duties around and say this means you need less people?

If you need less people to sub the Herald, then come out and say it.

And of you need less people to sub the Western Daily Press etc, then again, say so.

You would think it could be down to buildings or something, not having enough room for all of the over-proportioned subs or something, but anyone who has ever seen either the Plymouth or the Bristol buildings knows that's a feeble argument at best.

Instead, they've played newspaper musical chairs and also added in to the mix the possibility of reporters writing their own headlines and typing up copy directly in to template pages.

This is a whole other argument, but does also serve to highlight how ridiculous this plan is.

Okay, so the thinking is that we need less subs because reporters are entering their copy directly in to a page.

Fine, disregarding the enforced absence of any kind of creativity in page layout, but who is checking that copy?

The reporter? The news desk?

In theory, we all know two people checking the copy should work, but it doesn't.

That's what copy subs are there for. If they weren't needed at all, they would have been cut before, believe me.

No, what all of these things indicate is not that the business is necessarily struggling (although I'm sure all are experiencing a drop in profits), but rather that the newspaper groups have finally given up pretending that they care about the quality of their offerings any longer.

Perhaps, initially, when sales figures started to drop, they did think quality was important and that producing a good paper would bring back readers (you know, they only made half of us redundant at first!).

But it hasn't, and this seems a clear example of a publisher saying 'bollocks to it, whatever we do, noone's buying it, so let's put out any old shit'.

And what hope is there for the reporters and subs after this?

None, surely.

No, what you need to invest in now is lots of middle-managers with ipads who can walk around and sell digital something-or-others.

While it gives no comfort to anyone facing the prospect of yet another round of redundancies, the same old result will come.

Those who should go; won't.

Does anyone else feel like giving up and letting the industry wallow in the shit it has so eagerly created for itself?

Oh, as usual, here's a plug for Twitter! @haplesshack - do log on there and let me know what you think of all these changes Northcliffe staff - and those beyond!

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