Martin Johnson, a former SJA Sports Feature Writer of the Year, and football writer Tim Rich are believed to be the latest leading figures to leave the Daily Telegraph‘s sports desk, after a year of changes in the department.
News of Johnson’s departure after 13 years at the Telegraph was openly discussed by cricket writers covering the Stanford Series in Antigua last week, though neither the writer nor the Telegraph management would comment, as discussions are believed to be on-going over whether Johnson will continue to contribute to the papers on a freelance basis.
Johnson began his career covering rugby and cricket for the Leicester Mercury, before joining the Independent as cricket correspondent at launch in 1986. There, he built a reputation for wit-laden writing, which he expanded to a broader sports features role when he joined the Telegraph in 1995.
A year after joining the Telegraph he was named SJA Feature Writer of the Year, and has since been “highly commended” several times in both the British Press Awards and the SJA Sports Journalism Awards.
His books include the “autobiography” of David Gower and Can’t Bat, Can’t Bowl, Can’t Field – the best cricket writings of M Johnson.
The Telegraph has been keen to stress that none of the recent staff changes, especially on sport, have been the result of “cut backs”, but have been due to the normal turnover of staff.
The paper recently hired former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan and former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho as columnists, but earlier leading journalists including Jim Mossop, Sue Mott, Martin Smith, Robert Phillip and Sunday Telegraph sports editor Jon Ryan have been among those to leave the new, “spoke-and-wheel” multi-media newsroom in Victoria.
Most of the changes have been instituted since the arrival as group head of sport Mark Skipworth.
The newspaper also cut all casual jobs, prompting complaints from the NUJ despite undertaking to create 40 multi-media journalist posts.
The NUJ chapel also questioned plans to scrap the Telegraph‘s nine-day fortnight â€“ and make it 10 days â€“ for 65 production journalists in exchange for a one-off payment of Â£2,000, with increased weekend working expected to put particular strain on sport’s production staff.
To check out sportsjournalists.co.uk’s archive on the changes at Telegraph sport this year, click here
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