The Gazette’s long term future may be in doubt after it’s parent company imposed a pay freeze on all it’s staff by deferring next year’s basic salary reviews for six months – the company claims that the salary reviews are being deferred a result of the continued severe downturn in advertising.
However, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) accused the company of making its employees “pay for management failure” and “reneging on a number of two- and three-year pay deals that have already been agreed”.
The company’s chief executive, Tim Bowlder said, “Regrettably, in the light of falling revenues and continued uncertainty, this decision is necessary to help safeguard the future of our companies.”
“In six months’ time, we hope our operating companies will be in a better position to determine the impact of the recession and to decide whether or not a salary increase can be afforded. Over the few next weeks, our company [managing directors] will be holding meetings with our employees and trade union representatives to explain the decision and discuss how it impacts local agreements.”
In November, the company announced that revenue from property advertising had plummeted by nearly 50% year on year since the end of August, as the effects of the latest financial crisis hit home.
During the same period employment ads were down by 32.1% year on year across the group, while motoring ads were down 24.3% and display ads down 12.1%.
The NUJ issued a strongly worded statement accusing the company of “appalling financial mismanagement”.
“Our members simply don’t accept that they have to pay the price for corporate failure. It’s incomprehensible that a company which made operating profits of over £178m last year can’t now afford to keep promises to its staff,” said the NUJ general secretary, Jeremy Dear.
“This is all about the appalling financial mismanagement of Johnston Press. The company prided itself on massive and unsustainable profit margins, taking cash out of the business, whilst putting the company in the red.”
“Now as those debts are being called in, managers can be found floundering, without any strategy except to cut back on already stretched editorial budgets.
“The bad faith being shown by the company is unbelievable. We’ll be consulting our members about how they want to respond to the announcement, but anger is already running high so the prospect of action can’t be ruled out.”
The shit being churned out by the likes of Paul Myles Kelly, Terry Kelly, David Maclean, Leah Strug, Lisa Nightingale, Angela Taggart, Andy Hughes and Verity Ward won’t be doing circulation figures much good so it’s hardly suprising advertising revenues at the Gazette are also down year on year.
If you’re stupid enough to waste 42p on a copy of the Gazette you certainly won’t be buying it for it’s news content, it’s not exactly packed with news is it?
But there’s plenty of worthless stories that are of little or no interest to the majority of readers including; a spattering of regurgitated old news (which has often appeared on blogs up to 2 weeks earlier), pages of advertising, an occasional cheap and shoddy competition and the odd ‘giveaway’ – remember the free packet of crisps promotion?
But in these uncertain times you can be sure of one thing – the Gazette will be full of Labour party propaganda, council spin and happy smiley pictures of Labour councillors; most of whom are up for re-election in 2010. You decide whether it’s coincidence, or piss poor editorial control by John Szymanski who appears to be answerable to his new found friends in the council rather than his employer.
Perhaps Mr Szymanski would like to explain to his dwindling readership why the Gazette didn’t publish this story?