Job cuts at Newsquest, owners of various titles including our very own Richmond and Twickenham Times, have prompted journos there to go on strike. Their gripe concerns post closures and the consequent drop in the breadth and quality of coverage at a time when Newsquest, is turning a decent profit. Picketing has taken place at Newsquest’s Sutton HQ but also at the R&TT offices on London Road, Twickenham. According to the picket line “special edition” of the paper, Newsquest had proposed closing 15 posts (including the entire 8-strong sport & leisure department). It then seems that management decided to save 2 (yes, two) of these posts but despite this, says the picket line special, the entire sport & leisure department could be closed by the end of the month.
We assume that for Newsquest the decisions are purely a numbers game reflecting not just recent financial performance but future projections too. It’s a tough market. The disgruntled hacks claim that it is they, and not the suits in Sutton, who understand the value of local papers and what they do for the community. They could well have a point. A weak local paper goes directly into the recycling box, putting a title on a downward spiral. A strong local paper is valued and fills an important role in the community, a role that even the most excellent of hyperlocal blog sites cannot fill.