Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Taking a lead in pressuring Newsquest

We reported earlier how former Seahorses singer-songwriter Chris Helme, now lead guitarist of The Yards, signed our petition backing the NUJ campaign for a decent pay rise. We now have a copy of a letter to the managing director Steve Hughes from his bandmate guitarist Chris Farrell, reproduced below. We are urging all our supporters to email Steve at and his boss regional managing director David Coates at to suggest they start paying their journalsts fairly. Here's Chris's eloquent letter:

Dear Steve,

I'm emailing you to express my support for the journalists currently on strike at the Press and concern that a once much valued local paper has been reduced to treating its staff so badly.

As a York resident for over 14 years I have always relied on the journalists working for the Press to keep me informed about what is happening in my community in an informative and relevant way.

As a charity fundraiser and musician I am only too aware that without coverage in the Press the cultural and social life of York would be greatly impoverished. Without sufficient properly paid and committed journalists covering local issues and events you simply cannot produce a paper that should properly be seen as a keystone of our city and as such the relevance (and readership) of the Press will disappear.

As an employer I feel it is demeaning to your staff to offer a 3% pay rise when real inflation is over 4% and food inflation is over 10%. We in the charity sector have recognised that you really do get what you pay for in the end and it is both exploitative and self defeating to expect staff to work in these conditions. As a company that makes a considerable profit off the hard work of your employees I can see no reason why you feel the need to adopt your current position other than sheer greed.

I therefore very much hope you will recognise the legitimacy of your employees position and revise your pay offer, allowing the journalists of the Press to return to what they does best, providing relevant local coverage and comment on all aspects of York life.

Yours sincerely

Chris Farrell