THE National Union of Journalists has called on Northern and Shell, co-owners of the Irish Daily Star, to reconsider the threat to close the newspaper following publication of photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet described the decision as “an over the top reaction which should be reconsidered calmly and with consideration of the full implications for Irish journalism and for editorial diversity”.
The union’s Irish secretary Séamus Dooley branded the decision “a callous and crude attempt by Northern and Shell to protect their UK commercial interests with no regard for the livelihood of 80 Irish workers”.
Michelle Stanistreet added: “There is no justification for putting the livelihood of workers at the Irish Daily Star in jeopardy because of disagreement over an editorial decision of this nature.
“The Irish Daily Star is a joint venture between Independent News & Media and Northern and Shell. The future of the newspaper is linked to the financial and editorial support of both investors.
“Editorial management of the newspaper rests with the editorial team in Dublin and it is difficult to see why the UK shareholder has chosen this issue as the grounds for withdrawing from a long-standing contract. The Irish Daily Star is a successful newspaper and any threat to the survival of the title is a threat to editorial diversity.”
Séamus Dooley expressed grave concern for the journalists employed by the Irish Daily Star. He said the announcement of the UK shareholder had stunned Irish staff and would shock loyal readers of the newspaper.
He added: “The Irish Daily Star has always been marketed as an Irish title free of UK interference in editorial matters. The editor took a controversial decision on this issue just as he and his predecessors have done in the past, without reference to the newspaper owners. I do not understand why this particular decision is being treated any differently.
“There are agreed mechanisms for dealing with breaches of editorial standards and it is difficult to see why these mechanisms were not used rather than the sledge hammer deployed by the UK partners of the newspapers. While there are undoubtedly strong views about this issue, I do not accept that publication of the pictures provides justification for ending a commercial relationship with Independent News & Media.”