“Demise of sports journalism” as Jim Lawton axed

Jim Lawton, a former SJA Sports Writer of the Year, is among the five sports desk staff at The Independent to be facing compulsory redundancy, according to a report on Press Gazette.

James Lawton: Independent has no place for its chief sports writer
James Lawton: Independent has no place for its chief sports writer reported last week that five senior staff from the amalgamated sports desks of The Independent, IoS, i and Evening Standard had been included on the list of 27 staffers whose jobs faced the axe. Sources suggest that the papers’ football coverage could be especially hard-hit if the full proposals go through, and all with the new season just weeks away.

The Press Gazette report this week, however, named The Independent’s chief sports writer, Lawton, together with some of the paper’s other big name columnists, such as former editor of The Independent Magazine John Walsh, chief editorial writer Mary Dejevsky who may be leaving the title.

SJA member Lawton, who celebrates his 70th birthday this weekend, spent last Sunday at Muirfield, covering The Open for his newspaper. He has worked at The Independent for the last 20 years. He is a former chief sports writer for the Express, having also worked for the Telegraph and in Canada for the Vancouver Sun. He has covered football World Cups since 1966 and been a regualr at the Olympic Games since 1976.

His work in Britain has seen him regularly short-listed for category awards at the SJA’s British Sports Journalism Awards, winning the columnist award in 2005 and feature writer prize in 2006, having taken the ultimate accolade of SJA Sports Writer of the Year in 1988.

More recently, his writing has been used and “re-purposed” across The Independent, i and the Standard, following the merger of the sports departments last year.

“A day to mourn the demise of British sports journalism,” was the way one colleague related the news via Twitter. “Probably my most influential one-time colleague, James Lawton is made redundant.”

Lawton was unavailable for comment when contacted about the Press Gazette report.

Negotiations about the redundancies are expected to continue this week as the National Union of Journalists balloted members over potential strike action.

  • Tomorrow: Read Norman Giller’s latest column on his old friend and colleague Lawton


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