HAMISH MACKAY’S MEDIA REVIEW
More than 250 journalists are entering a redundancy consultation process as a result of major UK newspaper group Reach plc’s plans to significantly cut costs, with more than 100 editorial jobs in jeopardy.
Reach plc publishes a number of titles including locally the Lennox Herald in Dumbaron, the Daily Record, the Sunday Mail, the Mirror and the Daily Express, plus a raft of regional newspapers across the UK.
HTFP reports that Reach is planning to shed 200 jobs across its divisions due to what it has termed ‘unprecedented cost and inflationary pressures’. It appears that just over half – 102 – of the jobs set to be lost will be editorial posts.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) claims 253 editorial staff have been placed at risk of redundancy – meaning the journalists will now have to compete for posts which will remain at the end of the process.
The NUJ also claims that Reach has withdrawn more than 100 out of around 280 existing job vacancies.
The NUJ’s national coordinator at Reach, Chris Morley, pointed out: “Reach’s announcement of big job cuts – on top of the shedding of journalistic roles across the group over the last few months of 2022 – has come as a grim and unwelcome start to the new year.
“We are urgently seeking more clarity on these proposals and where the company thinks it can make cuts without harming its core business. Our members are clear that for the company to succeed it must protect the creation of quality journalism and original content, and that means limiting as much as possible any cuts to editorial staffing.
“We will be listening to our members and reps and digesting [today’s] announcements fully in the coming days as we engage with the company as closely as possible in the consultation process to try to avoid and mitigate the worst impacts on our members.”
The decision to cut jobs was announced by Reach’s chief executive, Jim Mullen, alongside a trading update which revealed the group is aiming to make £30 million of cost savings during 2023.
Reach says it aims to make the savings through ‘simplification of central support functions, supply chain efficiencies in print and distribution, and accelerated removal of editorial duplication’.
A Reach spokesperson told Hold The Front Page : “We expect the macroeconomic climate to remain challenging in 2023 and have therefore taken decisive action, putting a comprehensive cost reduction plan in place.
“While this regrettably includes around 200 redundancies, in addition to removing a number of open vacancies, this early action will allow us to protect our organisation and ensure we continue to deliver on our Customer Value Strategy.
“We will continue to review all aspects of our ongoing strategic transformation to ensure we are well placed to benefit once industry trends return to more normalised levels of activity.”
Reach is scheduled to report results for 2022 on 7 March. A new chief financial officer, Darren Fisher, is due to join the business on 1 February.
Reach’s Jim Mullen, explained: ‘Page view growth for the year of 4% is outperforming the publishing sector; our registered customer base of 12.5m is now 25% of our UK audience; and with the expansion of our footprint in the US, we are confident that this will drive more sustainable growth for the long-term.
“We expect current market headwinds will continue during 2023 and have therefore taken decisive action, putting in place a further cost reduction plan. This will ensure we retain our strong foundations and are able to continue investing in our digital growth priorities, which position us to benefit strongly when the economic environment improves’.
DC Thomson reports a significant drop in pre-tax profits
Leading Scottish media group, DC Thomson, which publishes The Press and Journal and Evening Express in Aberdeen, and The Courier, Evening Telegraph and The Sunday Post in Dundee, has revealed that the impact of rising inflation was beginning to impact on the business.
Daily Business reports: ‘”The Dundee-headquartered company, which also has interests in radio, magazines and genealogy sites, said pre-tax profit for the 12 months to the end of March 2022 fell to £7.3 million against a record £338.7 million in 2021, which was boosted by a sharp uplift in external investments.
“It made a £180 million loss in the previous year on a fall in its investments. Total revenue came in at £174.1 million compared to £160.2 million in the previous period, while trading revenue was up £10.7 million to £156.4 million.”
The 1,600-employee company said the increase in revenue reflected the recovery from Covid-19 disruption and new digital streams. However, it also acknowledged that rising IT and raw material costs were making a significant impact and had eroded margins.
Falling sales of its newsstand print titles was offset by an increase in digital subscriptions. The directors shared a dividend of £558,000 – almost the same as in the previous year.
The reporting period included the early weeks of the war in Ukraine but preceded the energy and cost-of-living crisis.
Three north weeklies in running for Newspaper of the Year
The Skye-based West Highland Free Press, the Strathspey & Badenoch Herald and The Shetland Times weekly newspapers will do battle for the Newspaper of the Year title in this year’s Highland and Islands Media Awards.
The Kirkwall-based The Orcadian weekly and the Aberdeen-based The Press and Journal daily newspaper have each received seven nominations, while Mark Harcus, a staff reporter on The Orcadian, is in contention for no less than five awards.
All the winners will be revealed at the ever-popular annual Highlands and Islands Press Ball in the Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness, on Friday 3 February.
Here is the full shortlist of nominations:
Newspaper of the Year
The Shetland Times; Strathspey & Badenoch Herald; and the West Highland Free Press
Gaelic Writer of the Year
Aonghas Pàdraig Caimbeul (Angus Peter Campbell), West Highland Free Press; and Donald Pollock, BBC Scotland
Photographer of the Year
Paul Campbell, freelance, Inverness; Beth Taylor, Highland News and Media, Elgin; and Malcolm Younger, freelance, Shetland
Business Writer of the Year
Mark Harcus, The Orcadian; Peter Ranscombe, freelance (contributing to The Press and Journal); and Simon Warburton, The Press and Journal
Environment and Sustainability Writer of the Year
Ethan Flett, The Orcadian; Mark Harcus, The Orcadian; and Donna McAllister, The Press and Journal
Sports Writer of the Year
Craig Christie, Highland News and Media; Mark Harcus, The Orcadian; and Andy Skinner, The Press and Journal
Young Reporter of the Year: Alex Main Trophy
Ethan Flett, The Orcadian; Chloe Irvine, The Press and Journal; and Sean McAngus, The Press and Journal
Reporter of the Year: Jim Love Memorial Trophy
Rita Campbell, The Press and Journal; Stuart Findlay, The Press and Journal; Mark Harcus, The Orcadian; and Iain MacInnes, BBC Scotland
Feature Writer of the Year
Mark Harcus, The Orcadian; Andrew Henderson, Highland News and Media; and Brian Wilson, Stornoway Gazette
Community Newspaper of the Year
Black Isle Chatterbox; Loch a Tuath News; and West Word
3. Bloody Sunday commemoration voted best front page
The Derry Journal’s commemoration of the Bloody Sunday massacre 50 years ago has been voted the best front page of 2022 by readers of media industry website HoldtheFrontPage (HTTP).
The Irish bi-weekly, which scored a runaway victory for its dramatic front page ‘Never Forget’, is one of the oldest continuously published newspapers in the UK. It celebrated its 250th birthday last June having started life as the Londonderry Journal and General Advertiser in 1772. Its commemorative front page, which marked 50 years since the January 1972 massacre which led to the deaths of 14 people, notched up a staggering 89% of the votes cast.
The front page of Scottish daily The National, featuring the Partygate political scandal, was voted second, with the Liverpool Echo’s front page following the tragic killing of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel in third place.
A separate poll asking readers to select their favourite tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth saw The Scotsman’s front page, published the day after her death in September, taking the top award.
This column appears weekly in the SCOTTISH REVIEW
Should you wish to get in touch with me, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Caithness-born Hamish Mackay is now in his 57th year as an occasional/sometimes regular contributor to the UK’s exceedingly diverse media market