I’ve been thinking recently about a meeting I covered as a young reporter, which has stayed with me for years since.
It was an unremarkable event in Sheffield, in around 2004, ahead of that year’s European elections. The British National Party (remember them?) was pressing to win a seat in Yorkshire and city leaders were spooked by the threat that presented.
Civic and political leaders came together at Sheffield City Hall to show a united front against the BNP and give personal statements denouncing them.
I can only imagine the reaction of former Johnson Press colleagues when absorbing recent messages from their chief executive Ashley Highfield about the future of the papers they work for.
The ambition to make local news a successful digital product has been talked about for more than a decade, but no regional publisher has yet to make money in this area. So one could be forgiven some scepticism when hearing lines about creating ‘platform neutral’ newsrooms. Mumsnet even gets a mention.
A recent post by Jon Slattery has confirmed what I have been hearing about the continuing problems at my old employers, the Sheffield Star. He reports that staff are balloting to strike next week over plans to cut yet more editorial numbers from an already overstretched newsroom.
I left the paper in 2004, and ballots were taking place then (at that time, it was over pay: strike action was avoided). Nearly seven years and two editors later, it appears that conditions have got worse. Recent stories about painful cock-ups caused by a new production system (see picture, right) have added to the frustration.