The company wide ballet at Johnston Press has resulted in 70 per cent of NUJ staff voting in favour of industrial action.
The ballot was over what the NUJ claims is Johnston’s rushed introduction of the new Atex content management system which it claims is creating redundancies and harming the editorial quality of the company’s newspapers.
Seventy per cent of members voted in favour of action of some sort, although 88.1 per cent of these said it should be action short of a strike.
Turnout was 65.2 per cent.
Fantastic, optimistic quote from NBC TV news reporter Bob Dotson when talking about the future of media.
He said: “Don’t be depressed about the future of journalism.
“We’ll always need storytellers.”
Mr Dotson was talking at a convention in the US at which he revealed the secrets of his trade.
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State of Play: Bulletproof
In newsrooms up and down the country the chill wind of recession is still blowing.
There will be no bail out for the Bob Cracketts of the editorial floor.
Tied to their desks, haunted by the ghosts of expense claims past and the memories of those unlucky companions who foundered on the rocks of austerity, these helpless hacks are shackled in silence by the threat that they will be the next on the chopping block.
But lo, at last someone has spoken out against the axe wielding Scrooges who run the slaughter-house.
The Independent’s Stephen Glover rallies against the executives of the newspaper world comparing them to those who have inherited of Ebenezer’s crown, the fat cat bankers.
In his column today Mr Glover targets out two of the industry’s worst offenders.
His ire is bent on David Montgomery, chief executive of European media group Mecom and Trinity Mirror’s Sly Bailey.
Montgomery was paid £874,000 in 2009, an increase of 51 per cent on his salary despite the company suffering a 28 per cent fall in profits and laying off some 850 staff.
All of which lead Glover to opine: ‘Mr Montgomery is an expert at cutting costs.
‘It is his chief – some would say his only – attribute as a newspaper executive…
‘But is cost cutting enough to pay somebody more money when profits fall?’
Well said sir.
As reported on HoldtheFrontPage, Johnston Press has taken a significant, albeit late, move into the modern, technological world.
Edinburgh based daily The Scotsman launched an iPhone app on Thursday in an attempt to attract a younger generation of readers.
Many national and international newspapers have previously launched apps, but the move represents JP’s first efforts in the field and, the company says, the first smartphone application in Scotland.
The app, which comes three years after the iPhone was launched but that will be compatible with the new iPad, will cost £1.75 for a three month subscription.
It will include live breaking news and sport, as well as health, politics and education sections.
A digital, page turning version of the print edition and review pages will also be available.
State of Play: A worthy experiment – if a touch late
The American owners of Newsquest have announced first-quarter profits double those of last year.
Gannett released figures on Friday that showed advertising revenues have improved in every section in the States.
Chairman Craig A. Dubow said the company had reduced it’s debt by $260m during the quarter.
Net income was $119.4m, up from just $57m in the same quarter last year.
State of Play: Light at the end of the tunnel?
Staff across Johnston Press today received a memo informing them that improved trading conditions across the group mean the company’s pay freeze is coming to an end.
Although the latest six month freeze, imposed at the start of the year, will remain in place this means journalists could be looking at a pay rise by June.
But according to The Blog’s sources within Johnston Press the move hasn’t had quite the moral boosting effect managers might have expected.
One wag told us: “Good timing, eh? Right before we have to vote on strike action. Put it this way, I won’t be changing my mind.”
State of Play: Light at the end of the tunnel or cynical ploy? You decide…
Yesterday The Blog asked the question, is the strike action threatened by Johnston Press journalists the result of an aversion to change or a fight to preserve quality.
Media commentator Roy Greenslade made his thoughts on the subject pretty clear in a blog post on Friday.
Mr Greenslade, hardly a Luddite, blasted JP bosses over the way the system has been introduced.
Calling the company ‘ham-fisted’ he wrote: ‘Johnston’s axe has been dripping with blood for a long time and the remaining staff are now alarmed about whether – should the ATEX system result in further cuts – their papers can provide a proper public service to readers’.
He sites the account of a source at the group’s Edinburgh Evening News who said that at a meeting on Thursday the head of training told sub-editors they would no longer be required, before adding: “Let’s face it, reporters can write better headlines anyway.”
Mr Greenslade then dissects ATEX’s own website blurb; ‘behind the gobbledegook, it is clear that ‘content’ is not a substitue for ‘journalism’. The system is simply about enabling reporters to do the jobs of reporting and sub-editing’.
He added: ‘To cast them (sub-editors) aside is a foolish, penny-pinching move that will inevitably affect the quality of what ATEX would doubtless call ‘the product’.’