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Newspapers ‘turning on staff’ as revenues plummet during lockdown

REGIONAL newspaper publishers are turning on their staff after a disastrous collapse in advertising revenue and sales due to the coronavirus crisis.

Newsquest, which is owned by US firm Gannet, is now being forced to ask for donations, having put many staff on furlough and cutting wages above £18,000 by 15 per cent.

The company, whose papers include the Bradford Telegraph and Argus, is also using government funding guarantees on wages to lay off staff.

JPIMedia, publisher of the Yorkshire Post, is cutting by 10 per cent wages of workers paid between £18,000 and £40,000, and imposing a 15 per cent pay cut above £40,000.

Papers across Scotland are also suffering as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak and resultant social measures.

Delivery services have been hit as a result of lockdown measures, with the Glasgow Times unable to complete door-to-door cash collections meaning that home deliveries have been halted.

Workers at JPIMedia’s Scottish titles have also been hit as a result of the furlough, and pay cut measures have been put in place.

Editorial staff at The Scotsman, as well as local titles including the Edinburgh Evening News, Border Telegraph and others, are believed to have been affected.

The Morning Star understands Newsquest did not consult staff or the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and other unions before announcing its measures.

But talks are planned tomorrow between JPIMedia and the NUJ.

Georgina Morris, lead representative for the JPIMedia NUJ Group Chapel, said: “With the serious financial pressures facing the regional media and everything that’s happened with our own employer in recent years, it feels like we’re always braced for the possibility of job cuts or pay freezes.

“The announcement by Newsquest about putting staff on furlough and cutting pay was the first alarm bell for us though as we tend to find that where one publisher goes, the others soon follow.

“Seeing colleagues elsewhere being furloughed has done nothing to lessen the upset felt by us all on Wednesday when the company briefings were made.

“There’s been panic for those being furloughed in particular as the initial news sinks in and we’re all still trying to understand the finer details and what this means.

“It’s certainly heightened the fears that everyone already held about the prospect of redundancies further down the line.”

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