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Is there more to the Glasgow Herald / Evening Times redundancies than meets the eye?

Newsquest, publisher of the Herald and Evening Times, is giving redundancy notices to more than 230 journalists and giving them the “opportunity” to apply for “new” jobs. 30 to 40 hacks will get the bullet. According to Media Guardian:

The move is seen as a way of dismantling a powerful National Union of Journalists chapel at the group, which publishes the Herald, Evening Times and Sunday Herald, according to one senior insider.

Political and trades union leaders in Scotland also said they were shocked and alarmed by the scale of the restructuring measures implemented by Newsquest, which is owned by US newspaper company Gannett.

“The worry really is that what they’re really trying to do is slash wages and conditions. So if you go for a job, it will be a much lower paid one,” the Herald & Times Group source said.

“This is all to do with the fact that the Herald is a relatively well-paid newspaper. What they clearly want to do is to put these jobs on provincial English pay rates. What they just can’t understand is why the Herald should be paying more than they do in Southampton or Bradford,” the insider added.

…Circulation of both the Scotsman and the Herald have been in steep decline, which many observers believe has been accelerated by staff cuts at both titles and their failure to adapt quickly to the digital news industry.

Update: Shaun Milne asks, “What about the readers?”

And as I’ve already argued over what I fear will be similar dramatic developments to come at the Daily Record and Sunday Mail, progress should and could be made to benefit quality journalism, not in spite of it.

Is it any surprise that sales have fallen at a time when there is less quality journalism, campaigns and investigations to lure readers in?

Where is the tipping point? How mundane and bland to we have to make these fine institutions before there is no point printing papers of record at all?

4 replies on “Is there more to the Glasgow Herald / Evening Times redundancies than meets the eye?”

When I heard that Martin had been appointed to run the Herald I thought “my god, are they trying to shut all three titles down?” and immediately answered my own question.

The ET brought shame on this country last year during their bullying, abusive “we name and shame bitter litter louts!” campaign, where they published the names, genders, and home addresses of 1500 people who had paid minor littering fines. I commented on the site at that time:

We all should be concerned about why the Evening Times has chosen to carry out this campaign using the language and phrases of outright violence: “we hit back”, “we warned you”, “you were well warned”. If they are so confident that they are right, why are they addressing their audience like they’re a mob of East End gangsters? Just who do they think they are? Is Donald Martin that insecure that he needs to threaten and harass people so that he can feel good about himself? Nobody is disputing that litter is a problem. No one is disputing that people should be made to account for their actions. What is under dispute is why the Evening Times has appointed themselves #1 Big Man and is embarking upon a shameless campaign of bullying, intimidation, and violence. Outside of totalitarianism I know of no newspaper in history which has ever appointed itself with the right to threaten the civilian population of an entire city, and then carry out their own pogrom – excuse me, program – of systematic harassment and punishment over and above what has already been determined as appropriate by the state.”

And ladies and gentlemen, the man behind that campaign has just been promoted. Would the last person to leave Renfield Street please turn out the lights.

Surely if there are still 210 jobs they can’t make 250 redundant. That doesn’t sound legal.

It’s legal as long as they get first dibs on these “new” jobs. There must be some impressive lawyer at work, though, writing the contracts to make the new jobs legally significantly different to the old ones. I mean, they’re journalists — just how many different ways can you define their duties?

I suspect journalists will become content producers.

On a related note, have you seen the ET’s integration of video? It’s absolutely appalling – so for example if there’s been a big fire in a block of flats, you get a reader’s camcorder footage of the firemen milling about long after the last whiff of smoke has gone. No commentary, no apparent edits.. they did footage a few weeks back to illustrate a story about M8 roadworks, and it was a video camera mounted on a car dashboard as somebody drove around the M8. I mean, FFS.

@heather: that was awful, as was the naming and shaming of inconsiderate parkers. Horrid, petty, spiteful… a real shame, because Glasgow deserves better than that in its main newspaper. No wonder everybody reads the Metro instead.

Obviously I’m picking up on this story because it’s local, but the group is doing the same in other parts of the country – and other media groups have been doing their own nights of the long knives. I really don’t get it, because the whole point of a newspaper is supposed to be its journalism. Cut it back too far and you’ve nobody to cover anything, to do more than read press releases and wire stories and regurgitate them. Which, of course, is where churnalism comes from.

And in the not too long term it’s going to kill those titles, because the advertising’s moving to the web. What they should be doing is getting more journos, not fewer – get local bloggers involved, harness all of that. Because if your product is shoddy, readers – and advertisers – will go elsewhere.

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