Newspaper operator Reach PLC is to close the offices of the Chester Chronicle and North Wales Daily Post, ending a 244 year association with the city.
Whilst the print titles will continue, they will now be produced at Reach PLC offices further afield, in Liverpool, Colwyn Bay or Manchester. Some staff will have the opportunity to work from home.
Reach PLC confirmed that there will not be any job losses as a result of the closure, but highlighted that the company would save ‘tens of thousands’ of pounds per year doing so.
The company also pointed out, as is always the way these days, that it remains committed to ‘return shareholder value’ against a backdrop of falling revenues.
Journalists’ union, the NUJ responded to the news of the closure by highlighting that the loss of the paper’s presence in the city would be problematic. Chris Morley, the NUJ’s Northern and Midlands senior organiser said; “…members have well-founded fears that losing a symbolic but significant physical presence in the county capital will set a tone that will make their task of convincing local readers that the company is serious about supporting their interests so much harder.
“We really hope the company will remain open to constructive suggestions and does the right thing to make any closure as least damaging to existing staff as possible.”
Cheshire NUJ FoC and chief reporter, David Holmes was even more sceptical, adding; “Deleting our office from the community we serve and scattering the Chester-based team to the four winds will be a challenge both in continuing to provide the same high quality coverage and for us as individuals.
“The timing of the decision is also odd given CheshireLive was only launched last September. The chapel believes this sends out an unfortunate signal to our readers and advertisers at an important time of transition.”
Just as we are witnessing in local radio, local print journalism is also under attack from the need to line the pockets of shareholders. Quite how local journalism can be carried out from many miles away is an utter nonsense.