Outrage as arts editor set to be ousted from York Press after nearly 30 years

More cuts at the York Press… Photograph: YorkMix
23 Nov 2017 @ 6.55 pm
| Business, News

The arts and entertainment world in York has reacted with shock and dismay at the news that the Press is set to make its arts editor redundant.

Charles Hutchinson, one of the best-known journalists in the city, has worked at the paper for 29 years.

He has covered the culture and entertainment beat tirelessly, previewing and reviewing thousands of gigs, shows and exhibitions.

And he has championed every aspect of York’s arts sector – a fact underlined by his role as a judge in tonight’s York Culture Awards.

But last Friday (November 17) Charles was told over the phone that his post was being made redundant.

Sub-editor axed

Charles’s role is one of two likely to go in the latest round of redundancies.

One of the paper’s two multi-media content managers – what used to be called sub-editors – is also set to go.

Bosses of the owners of the Press, Newsquest Yorkshire, have now initiated a consultation process which ends on Tuesday, December 5.

But no previous redundancies have been overturned in consultation.

‘Shock, outrage and sadness’

‘An intelligent observer of the arts’ – Charles Hutchinson

The treatment of Charles has generated anger across York’s thriving cultural sector.

And it has raised fears for the future media coverage of arts and entertainment in the city.

Steve Crowther, who runs the York Late Music Festival, said his reaction was “shock, outrage and, of course, sadness.

“To quote Oscar Wilde: ‘Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing’ – sums it up pretty well.

“Charles has made a massive contribution to both the York and regional arts scene. He is a thoroughly cultural, intelligent observer of the arts.

“His reviews invariably offered fresh insight, but it is his instinctive engagement and support for the whole diversity of cultural life that makes him so special.”

It would leave arts coverage in the city “clearly compromised. Very worrying,” he added.

Steve has been a reviewer for the Press for 20 years, but said he will not be reviewing for the paper again if Charles goes.

‘A sorry day’

Charles was on the picket line in February 2014, when Press journalists went on strike in protest at plans to move editorial jobs to Wales. Photograph: Richard McDougall

Jo Hird, publicity officer for Pick Me Up Theatre – currently performing My Fair Lady at the Grand Opera House – said she found out about the imminent redundancy when speaking to Charles about the show.

“I was really sad to hear this and deeply disappointed as Charles has always been such a great supporter of live theatre and performance in York,” she said.

“He’s always there, making sure there is coverage and doing a review when he can.”

Jo added:

I’m seriously worried about the standard of arts coverage in our city going forward. Charles knows his stuff and would have been very hard to replace.

As it is if his position is redundant we will presumably now have no dedicated reporting at all. It is a sorry day for York’s arts scene.

More job losses

YorkMix understands that the York chapel of the National Union of Journalists has met to consider the redundancy proposals and will be contacting management to express their views.

We have approached Nigel Burton, group editor at Newsquest Yorkshire, for comment, and will add his response if and when it comes.

The York job losses follow a series of cutbacks in recent years which have decimated the newsroom. And sources told us there may be more in the pipeline.

They are not the only redundancies in the group. According to trade website Hold The Front Page two newsdesk staff at the Bradford Telegraph & Argus are set to go.

Similarly two newsdesk staff at the Northern Echo are going, while three senior staff working on the Craven Herald and Ilkley Gazette will be reduced to two under proposals by the company.