Journalists on the Argus are taking strike action next week to keep a local paper in Brighton. They are trying to stop virtually all production and editorial being moved to Southampton, and to save 6 local jobs.
The Argus is owned by Newsquest, which is itself a subsidiary of the American Gannett Foundation. The move to Southampton has been gradually taking place for some time now. A few years ago, the Argus moved to its present location in Hollingbury because it had outgrown its central Brighton home. Now, what's left of the Brighton operation would fit comfortably into one floor of the old location.
We have seen the effect of this in terms of a far more superficial publication, which never covers any issue in any depth, and mostly just regurgitates press releases. I recall that about 10 years ago when I was involved in a fight to stop New Labour privatising the Benefits Service in the Council, it was an investigative reporter who took time to uncover the abysmal track record of the preferred bidder for the service which played a large part in derailing those plans. I couldn't see that happening now.
If Newsquest gets its way, there will just be 2 journalists based in Brighton - the paper is already printed in Southampton and trucked back into Brighton for distribution.
The Argus has always had its faults, but at a time when we have a highly centralised council bent on making massive cuts with as little opposition as possible, we need a decent local paper to hold them to account.
The NUJ pickets will be out in Crowhurst Road (opp ASDA) from 8am on the 18th and 19th. Give them your support.