Journalists protest at job cuts

Journalists hit the sunny streets of Cromer on Saturday as a campaign against job cuts at Archant Norfolk, publisher of the North Norfolk News, stepped up a gear.

Journalists hit the streets of Cromer as a campaign against job cuts at Archant Norfolk, publisher of the North Norfolk News, stepped up a gear.

A dozen staff from the News and its sister titles were in the town to highlight their employer's plans to shed 34 editorial jobs. Organised by local members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), the "Save Your News" event outside the former Woolworths store received warm support from the people of Cromer.

During two hours on Saturday more than 200 people signed a petition in support of the NUJ's fight to save the editorial jobs, which Archant Norfolk says must go amid economic pressures.

Pete Kelley, NUJ chapel leader, said: "We found that many people understood the problems we are facing and are worried about the effect on local newspapers." Mr Kelley said he understood Archant Norfolk was under economic pressure but claimed that it only needed to shed 22 jobs at most to help balance its books.

The NUJ and Archant Norfolk employees were supported in their efforts by Labour Party members David Russell and Nicola Mortin, and by national NUJ representative Barry Fitzpatrick.

Mr Russell said the cuts could impinge on the company's dedication to covering local issues affecting north Norfolk, from sea defences at Sea Palling to holding the district council to account.

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In early March Archant Norfolk said it wanted to shed 54 editorial jobs out of 179 because of a downturn in revenue due to the global economic crisis and the introduction of a more efficient editorial newsroom computer system. After a high-profile campaign by its staff, including a Facebook internet site and Downing Street petition, the losses were scaled down to 34.

Stephan Phillips, managing director of Archant Norfolk, said: "We respect that in a democratic society people should have the opportunity to air their feelings. In addition to this public display, members of staff are coming to see me on a one-to-one basis to air their concerns as well as their own ideas for future ways of working.

"As we are not state-funded like some other media organisations, we have to tackle the financial challenges which we, like many other newspaper companies, are facing at this time.

"We have to look at changes in the way we all work, and change is never easy in any organisation. We will continue to consult with our elected staff representatives to move the process forward."

The NUJ plans to hold a demonstration in North Walsham Market Place this weekend and in Dereham the following weekend.