Shock and dismay as two highly-respected sports journalists are ousted from the York Press

Re-open for business – Bootham Crescent. Photograph: YorkMix
28 Jun 2019 @ 6.26 pm
| News

The York Press has ousted two hugely experienced and highly-respected sports journalists in its latest round of cutbacks.

York City FC reporter Dave Flett and Peter Martini, who covered the York City Knights as well as being de facto sports editor, were made redundant today (Friday, 28 June).

Sports clubs and fans reacted with dismay to the news, amid fears that sports coverage in the city would be significantly diluted as a result of the decision.

YorkMix asked the Press editor Nigel Burton how the paper was planning to cover sport in future but is still waiting for a response.

The redundancies are not the result of local decisions. The Press is owned by national media group Newsquest – which in turn is owned by US giant Gannett – which have a reputation for cutting editorial jobs and slashing investment in journalism.

‘Been a privilege’

Dave Flett
Dave has been a journalist for 22 years and worked for the Press for 16 years.

In that time he covered a hugely turbulent time at York City FC on and off the pitch, including the highs of two Wembley wins in a week, and the many lows that saw them finish in the lowest position in the club’s history last season.

He said on Twitter today:

  • Final shift done at The Press after 16 years as York City FC reporter.

    Been a privilege and met so many great people. Also wish my colleagues based at Walmgate (not a single bad egg among them) all the best for the future.

    Currently open to all offers of future employment too!

Chairman of the York City Supporters’ Trust Mike Brown said the trust were “disappointed and concerned” by the redundancies.

“His reporting of matches, community initiatives and fundraising events have provided a vital link between the football club, supporters and the wider York community we serve.

“Indeed, it was the York Press that coordinated the original ‘Save City’ campaign and provided logistical support when we first formed the Supporters’ Trust in 2002.

“The paper has been in serious decline with a shadow staff and limited resources for many years and we’re now very concerned that this decision will result in a lack of breadth and quality of local football coverage going forwards.”

He added:

  • Ultimately, losing that vital content and readership may result in a downward spiral that threatens the very existence of the York Press altogether.

    It has been a real pleasure to work with Dave and we wish him all the best for the future.

‘Great people’

Peter has covered the Knights through thick and thin. Photograph: Craig Hawkhead
Peter Martini has been a journalist since 1996. He has chronicled the rise of York City Knights from days when the very existence of rugby league in the city looked threatened, through off-pitch tribulations to the team’s brilliant rise to within touching distance of the Super League.

Peter said:

  • I’m not from York but fell in love with the city when I came here in 2000 and have been here ever since.

    Doing this job, I’ve worked with some terrific journalists at the Press, and met great people in the York sporting community and the wider world of football and particularly rugby league.

    We have covered good and bad times at both York City Knights and York City FC.

    It’s great to see what’s been happening at the Knights in recent times and I feel I’ve made friends for life there. We wish both clubs every success in the future.

    I’ll be following them closely and still hope to be involved in one way or another.

Gary Hall of the Knights Supporters Society said: “Thank you Pete. For all your support especially in those dark times in 2002 when we were campaigning to keep rugby league alive in York.

“Best of luck in the future and I hope you will still follow the Knights so we can keep in touch.”

The next major redundancy at the Press is arts editor Charles Hutchinson. Despite a campaign to save his job from the arts community when YorkMix first revealed his post was under threat in November 2017, Charles is being made redundant next month.

The Press has long since lost all its staff photographers.