The NUJ say they will defend members at JP titles 'in every way [they] can'
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) fears "a massacre of journalists' jobs" at Johnston Press, with the news that daily titles in Scarborough, Peterborough, Halifax and Northamptonshire are to go weekly.
The Scarborough Evening News, Northampton Chronicle and Echo, Peterborough Evening Telegraph and Halifax Courier have all posted identical announcements on their websites announcing the switch from daily to weekly publication. The Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph is also going weekly.
The changes at each title are scheduled for May, as part of a move towards what Johnston Press described as "platform-neutral" publishing. Websites will be revamped with improved social and commenting functions and a new iPad application will be launched.
The Johnston Press statement on each site reads: "Our publishing strategy going forward will ensure that we give our local audiences what they want.
"While providing our existing audiences with an even better product, both in print and online, we will extend our audience by increasing our online content and making it easier to access in the most relevant ways as technologies continue to evolve.
"Our focus has always been on local and we will increasingly benefit from that core expertise with the rapid growth in both social media and in demand for access from mobile devices."
NUJ regional organiser Chris Morley told Journalism.co.uk: "Our members throughout Johnston Press have come into work today to be given devastating news in many places about the future of their newspaper titles and their jobs.
"We are sizing up the scale and nature of these announcements, but it's quite clear that the company will be looking to cut many editorial jobs and it threatens to be a massacre of journalist jobs.
"We will consider our collective response to this and defend our members in every way we can."
Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield said in a release: "In my first few months at Johnston I have been greatly encouraged by what I have seen in our local operations.
"We are committed to remaining a local company: that means local journalists and sales people working across the UK and Republic of Ireland, staying close to the communities and businesses they serve."
The announcements come after news emerged last week of a massive overhaul of the editorial structure at many Johnston Press titles.
The National Union of Journalists expressed their concern over the changes last week, saying: "Johnston Press constantly seeks more cuts and higher profits to ease the financial difficulties it faces – difficulties caused by Johnston Press's own mistakes."