Newsquest are rapidly knocking NWN into their mould, with the 44 year old Chester daily Leader edition being quietly binned and a new round of staff cuts being sought only months after taking over the company.
In an email early yesterday the newly promoted Group Editor told staff that a voluntary redundancy programme was starting, open for two weeks, covering ‘all areas of the editorial department’. It was noted that applications could be refused depending on the needs of the business, but also stated that if the ‘required number of volunteers’ was not met ‘it may be necessary to move to a compulsory selection for redundancy’.
The need for such a scheme was outlined as being due to the “recent changes to the print portfolio and pending rollout of new editorial systems, which will significantly improve workflow. ”
Before Christmas it was reported that 20 jobs were already at risk at NWN with various production roles being moved to Oxford.
Newsquest took over the previously family owned NWN Media company at the end of September, with the acquisition photocall taking place at the Chester office thankfully holding up the weekly Standard product rather than the now defunct Chester edition of the Leader. Various press releases have not mentioned the Chester Leader, and the edition has been removed from the corporate website despite references to ‘three localised editions’ still lurking.
On Christmas Eve Chester’s main source of realtime information, twitter account @shitchester, documented the rumour that the Chester edition was being pulled with a formal announcement and notification to readers expected shortly – however that did not happen. There has been very little visible reaction to the closure, with former staff and journalists being the voices we have seen.
Found the last Chester Leader unceremoniously stuffed behind some bins at Morrisons. No mention inside of it being the final edition: pic. twitter. com/YCcJQZi7wB
— Phil McCann (@phi1mccann) January 5, 2018
In a rare move the Trinity Mirror title the Chester Chronicle reported on the closure, quoting a Newsquest representative who points out that although the daily edition has gone the city will be covered by the weekly freesheet the Chester Standard.
The Chronicle failed to cover the closure of a nearby title at the same time, a fellow weekly Trinity Mirror title the Ellesmere Port Pioneer that had been published for 97 years. The closure was due to the “move to online news consumption”, however TM’s North West editor-in-chief Alastair Machray proudly pointed out the area will still be served by a Facebook page, apparently confident that Facebook is on the same page as local and regional media. The Pioneer’s social media accounts are now directing readers to articles hosted on the Chronicle website.
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