With the news that Wimbledon, Kingston, Richmond, Wandsworth Guardian’s, the Richmond & Twickenham Times, and the Surrey Comet are all under threat, it is perhaps time to question our plastic world of ‘aspirational’ glossy magazines, fast replacing the realism local press provides us.
Since we were children, we have all been brought up with our local Guardian arriving on the doorstep, celebrating local achievements and reporting the ups and downs the community faces. From breaking news and crime to school, sports and small business ads. It will be sad day when we don’t stand up and help protect one of the last few remaining credible papers, that supports and reflects our hometown.
According to the NUJ, Newsquest journalists (excluding managing editors and web editors) working across weekly newspapers in South London are at risk of redundancy by mid-October. The remaining staff of 12 reporters and four content editors will be expected to continue to produce 11 newspapers and eight associated websites.
‘These plans are designed to tear the heart out of the local newsroom…It’s appalling!…Where is the care for quality and readers?’ Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser.
Warning signs of problems became evident in June 2015 when a number of staff staged a 10 day strike, in response to the company overlooking low pay, under-staffing, impractical workloads and high stress levels.
An NUJ chapel spokesperson, said: ‘Once again, Newsquest have shown flagrant disregard and contempt for their employees, their products and their readers. These new proposals will not only destroy our already struggling news room and ruin the brands we have worked hard to build up, but they are quite simply unworkable.’
The affected titles include: the Croydon, Epsom, Kingston, Richmond, Sutton, Wandsworth and Wimbledon Guardians, the Richmond & Twickenham Times, the Surrey Comet and the News Shopper (Bexley, Bromley, Dartford, Gravesend, Greenwich and Lewisham editions) as well as their associated websites.
What can you do to help?
Send messages of support to the Newsquest South London chapel: firstname.lastname@example.org
People are also being urged to write to their MP or local councillors requesting them to contact Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker (email@example.com) and local managing editor Tony Portelli (firstname.lastname@example.org) appealing that they reverse this decision which puts the reporting of local democracy at risk and journalists out of work or with impossible workloads.
You can contact your MP or local councillors via the Write to Them website.