Strikers cheerful as JP executives undermine their own position

SPIRITS were high despite bone-chilling winds all round the Yorkshire Post building in Leeds today as strikers returned to the picket line for a second four-day walkout.

Tonight, there was a feeling that Yorkshire Post Newspapers managing director Chris Green was being ingenuous when he repeated a week-old and weak old statement to ITV’s Calendar News that there was no alternative to compulsory redundancies in the current economic climate.

His position was further undermined by the announcement today from Johnston Press that the company was to revamp websites for more than 300 of its titles.

No sum was mentioned, but such a deal cannot have come cheaply.

That Mr Green was left to issue a bland statement to other reporters while such an announcement was being made elsewhere understandably led to speculation about his own standing within the Johnston Press heirarchy.

Retail reaction

Criticism came too from a newsagent in central Leeds. Cuts to the quality of the Yorkshire Evening Post were affecting his business, he told the NUJ.

“The paper has gone down the swanee, big time, ” he said.

Such enthusiasm from vital retailers gives the company little option but to re-invest in quality reporting if they want circulation levels to recover, despite the effects of the recession on advertising revenue.

However, his comments co-incided with the revelation that Yorkshire Evening Post circulation had fallen 12 per cent in the second half of 2008 – after the company cut the paper from five editions to two, moved deadlines forward and transferred printing from Leeds city centre to Dinnington in South Yorkshire.

Some of the papers’ journalists suspect that Johnston Press executives are now waiting until the publication of latest trading figures, expected on Monday, before making any further move.

Then and now

The role of former Yorkshire Post editor Tony Watson in heading the Press Association’s production of the two titles also evoked scorn from former colleagues. Mr Watson had, Yorkshire Evening Post FoC Pete Lazenby reminded the strikers, handed in his resignation when Johnston Press took over the papers in protest against proposed cuts.

He had also, Pete said, declined to meet a delegation of Leeds journalists who had gone to Howden in East Yorkshire to leaflet PA’s other journalists today.

Earlier, both NUJ president James Doherty and vice president Pete Murray had travelled from Glasgow to support the day’s events.

Afterwards, James said: It’s hard being out on the line, but it really does bring people together.

“I was both humbled and inspired in equal measure today,” he added.

Derry delight

The Leeds journalists were also delighted when they heard that colleagues working for the Derry Journal, another Johnston Press title, had voted by 88.2 per cent in favour of strike action; 100 per cent had voted for action short of a strike.

Yorkshire Evening Post chapel clerk Richard Edwards is due to address the chapel there on Friday.


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2 Responses to “Strikers cheerful as JP executives undermine their own position”

  1. ypwicca Says:

    I wonder how quickly the PA strike-breaking emergency rescue mission would crumble if several simultaneous strikes were happening around Johnston Press titles…?

  2. Mr Anon Says:

    Have you considered that the reason why the YEP’s circulation is falling is because it’s a crap newspaper? I don’t know anybody who reads it anymore. It’s just a leftie rag sheet. The fact that all these Labour MPs are turning up to support you is just proof of that.

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