An unconfirmed number of photographers at Johnston Press titles in the North West and Yorkshire are facing redundancy.

The National Union of Journalists claims that in Yorkshire there are moves to “cut all photographers working for the weekly titles,” so 6.5 posts will go through compulsory redundancy, with one new job being made available.

In the North West the department will be run mostly by freelancers, with just 3 staffers remaining to cover Wigan, Preston and Blackpool.

While in the North East, the Union said it believed that that the plan was to retain 2 permanent photographers for the Sunderland Echo, Hartlepool Mail and Shields Gazette, plus another 2 to cover the area from North of the Tyne to the Borders.

A spokesperson from Johnston Press stated:

“New ways of working – which have resulted in a reduction in photographic roles – have been successfully implemented in some of JP’s other regions and our teams in Yorkshire and the North West are now working with the editorial teams to establish whether similar approaches are to be adopted.

“I can’t confirm numbers as the discussions are still ongoing – but we are working hard to support staff who may be affected.”

The National Union of Journalists has described the move as “short sighted” with morale at the publisher at “rock bottom”:

“Our members are shocked by further photographic redundancies, a move which is likely to hit the quality of newspapers and websites we produce, lead to further declining readership and harm the long-term prospects of the company,” stated the Johnston Press group chapel.

“Alarmingly, Johnston Press management believes that more ‘user generated content’ is the way forward. They ignore the fact that this requires more work from editorial teams in processing submitted material, which is often of a sub-standard quality and not suitable for publication.”

A review of photographers at the publisher began a year ago.