22 Media Wales jobs go as newspaper firm restructures

Twenty-two full-time journalism jobs will go as part of restructuring plans at newspaper publisher Media Wales.

The company includes the Western Mail, South Wales Echo, Wales on Sunday and seven weekly titles in south Wales.

The company said the redundancies were part of changes "in the light of continuing economic challenges".

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) voiced its shock, and members have given their approval to organising a strike ballot.

Last September four editors who run weekly titles in the valleys lost their jobs.

Media Wales said at the time that it planned to appoint an editor-in-chief to oversee senior staff to run titles, including the Merthyr Express, Pontypridd Observer, Rhondda Leader and Glamorgan Gazette.

In a statement on Friday Media Wales said the latest changes were part of the introduction of a single production team for news and features across the Western Mail, South Wales Echo, Wales on Sunday and all weekly titles.

The change will mean a reduction in the number of full-time jobs in the editorial production department, and result in the introduction of a new, part-time system, it said.

The company expects eight jobs to go from news production, 10 from the district offices and four from the sports department.

Production of the Celtic weekly titles will be restructured under the plans, while new sections for sport and "hyper-local news" will be introduced.

30-day consultation

There will also be "an increased focus on community-generated content".

Managing director Alan Edmunds said: "Media Wales continues to face tough economic challenges in 2011 and this trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

"By proposing these changes we believe we will be better positioned to deliver first-class print and digital content to our readers and advertisers and to protect the Media Wales portfolio of local and regional newspapers."

Mr Edmunds told staff in a statement that sales revenues had been driven down "and placed a considerable and increasing cost pressure on our business".

He added: "This combination of continually worsening trading conditions and its impact on our profit performance requires us to find new ways to operate more effectively to enable us to deliver an acceptable performance."

A 30-day consultation is due to end on 15 August.

Media Wales also publishes the Merthyr Express, Rhymney Valley Express, Gwent Gazette, Pontypridd Observer, Rhondda Leader, Glamorgan Gazette and Cynon Valley Leader, and closed two of its papers in 2009: the Neath and Port Talbot Guardians.

The NUJ chapel (branch) passed a resolution which said: "While recognising the especially challenging nature of the trading climate in Wales, it is determined to do everything possible to protect the jobs, wages and conditions of its members, as well as the quality of our products."

The chapel has also agree to immediate talks with management and backed the local NUJ committee "to take whatever action it sees fit in association with the union's national officers, including organising a strike ballot".

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