SENIOR clerics in the north-east have spoken out over proposed
staffing and production cuts at a leading regional newspaper.
The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Justin Welby, described plans
to end 140 years of printing the Sunderland Echo in the
city as "bad news" for the community. Eighty-one jobs are
threatened. The paper's editor for the past decade, Rob Lawson,
announced his departure on the same day.
The Echo's owners, Johnson Press, plan to switch the
paper's print-run to its plant in Sheffield.
"Local newspapers are essential to local communities," Bishop
Welby said. "Their health is measured by their local participation
in the economy and in reporting. The loss of an exceptional editor,
and the moving of printing to Sheffield, are bad news for
Sunderland and very much to be regretted."
Johnson Press's operating manager of group services, David Crow,
said that staff would be offered transfers to Sheffield. The
Echo's site would remain the base for nearly 300
editorial, commercial, and support staff.