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Despite group redundancies and pay freeze, Johnston Press CEO’s pay package nears £1m

Redundancies across the group and a pay freeze for all staff haven’t stopped the Johnston Press bosses taking home rather juicy bonuses for 2009.  As reported by the Times earlier this month, Johnston Press closed five papers last year, and 768 staff left the group in 2009. Pre-tax profits for 2009 were £43 million, a drop of 56 per cent.

But as reported by Johnston Press’ own paper, the Scotsman, John Fry, the group’s chief executive, took home £959,000 in pay, benefits and bonuses in 2009.

The package, reported in the group’s annual report this week, included: £210,000 cash bonus; a £210,000 performance-related bonus paid in shares (deferred for three years); and a basic salary of £525,000.

The Scotsman reports that his predecessor, Tim Bowdler, who retired in early 2009, was awarded £573,000 in basic pay in 2008. “All executive directors waived their right to a performance-related bonus that year,” it says.

Basic salary for the group’s two other executive directors, chief financial officer Stuart Paterson and chief operating officer Danny Cammiade, did not increase but they took home total packages of £655,000 and £590,000 respectively. In 2008 they took home £363,000 and £342,000 in total, respectively.

Here’s the comparison visualised in a chart. This shows the % change in £ from 2008 figures to 2009 figures (we’ve compared Fry’s pay package with Bowdler’s). The middle column at 0 represents the basic salary pay freeze across the group.

Blue: JP CEO pay package / Red: JP chief financial officer pay package / Yellow: chief operating officer pay package / Green: basic pay rise across group / Grey: total group revenue / Dark blue: advertising revenue / Magenta: JP pre-tax profit

Full Scotsman report at this link…

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TimesOnline: Interview with outgoing Johnston chief Tim Bowdler

January 5th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

“I can’t deny I have presided over a considerable loss of value,” says Bowdler.

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Was the Scotsman right to sack Nick Clayton for blogging?

September 25th, 2008 | 4 Comments | Posted by in Jobs

Earlier this week Journalism.co.uk picked up an update to Twitter from Nick Clayton, technology journalist, weekly tech columnist for the Scotsman, and recently signed-up blogger for Scottish media news website Allmediascotland (AMS):

The blog post in question – published on Friday 19 – mentioned, amongst other things, Clayton’s attempts to sell his house and the following statement, which seems to have riled The Scotsman:

“All but one of the too many estate agents I spoke to told me not to bother advertising in The Scotsman. Whether you’re looking for work or a home, the web’s the place to go.”

Clayton was told he was fired by Alison Gray, editor of the paper’s Saturday magazine, just hours after the post was put live, with it cited as the key reason behind his sacking.

“I’d written a slightly controversial blog entry for allmediascotland.com suggesting that, as websites replace printed newspapers, there would be little need for physical offices and that the role of the sub-editor would disappear. I hoped it would be a little provocative, but the most I expected was to have a few virtual brickbats lobbed in my direction,” said Clayton, in a follow-up piece.

Journalism.co.uk tried contacting the Scotsman, leaving messages with Alison Gray and the office of Tim Bowdler, chief executive of Scotsman Publications, but received no response to the following:

– does the Scotsman have a set policy on staff writing for external websites? and are journalists aware of this?

– could the blog post have been amended to prevent Clayton from losing his job?

– why was Clayton sacked for his comments on the state of print advertising after the Scotsman itself ran the story ‘Johnston Press hit by house market woes as property advertising slides’ on August 28?

Admittedly there’s no disclaimer on Clayton’s AMS blog – e.g. ‘the views expressed here are my own and do not reflect those of my employer’ etc etc – but nevertheless was this the right course of action for the Scotsman to take?

There’s nothing to stop a journalist from setting up their own personal blog or contributing in their professional capacity to another blog site – either as poster or commenter – and as the trend for doing so continues to grow more popular, will publishers start setting out stricter guidelines for what staff can and can’t say elsewhere?

Reactions like this and the idea of more stringent restrictions on where journalists can write online are counterproductive: letting journalists write, comment, engage and react with colleagues and readers online can help build an online community around them and their content, driving users back to the publisher’s site.

Spilling company secrets is one thing, but Clayton’s post was hardly exposing something that’s hidden from the rest of the newspaper industry.

Clayton has told me he’s contacted the National Union for Journalists (NUJ) (who haven’t got back to me either for that matter) – and I’ll be really interested to hear its stance on this: firstly, in reaction to the immediacy of his sacking; and more importantly, as to what this means for journalists working online, in multimedia and for multiple taskmasters.

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Adrian Jeakings will replace John Fry at Archant

September 24th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers

Following the news that Archant’s CEO John Fry will be the new chief executive at Johnston Press, Archant have announced that Adrian Jeakings will replace him.

Jeakings, currently finance director at the Archant group, will commence the role on November 1. Prior to working at Archant he was the group finance director of the Stationery Office.

Brian McCarthy will replace Jeakings as Archant’s group finance director.

The chairman of Archant, Richard Jewson, said in a release published today: “Both Adrian and Brian have contributed a great deal to our success and it is a tribute to John Fry that he has created such a strong management team”.

Johnston Press have also released a statement announcing that Fry will take over from the retiring CEO, Tim Bowdler, from January 5 2009.

In the release, John Fry said: “I am extremely excited to be joining Johnston Press and relish the opportunity to build on the success of Tim Bowdler and his team. The company has a strong local media franchise covering large parts of the UK and Ireland which I look forward to developing in both print and digital formats.”

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FT.com: Archant boss John Fry finalising contract with Johnston Press

September 22nd, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick

Johnston Press is set to appoint John Fry, currently the chief executive of Archant newspaper group, to replace outgoing chief executive Tim Bowdler.

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