Staff at MEN Media have been told that new owners Trinity Mirror plans to move them to its existing premises at Oldham.
The Guardian Media Group announced earlier today that it had sold its regional arm, which includes the Manchester Evening News and 21 weeklies in the surrounding area, to Trinity for £44.8m.
However GMG is retaining the lease on the MEN’S Scott Place HQ in Manchester city centre and, under the lease requirements, Trinity has been granted only a six-month licence to use the building.
As a result, Trinity says it will be necessary to relocate, although the proposed move has already sparked opposition from the National Union of Journalists.
GMG bosses briefed staff on the proposed OIdham move at 10am this morning, just prior to the sale announcement.
A spokesman said: “The situation is that TM is proposing to relocate to their premises in Oldham. This will be fully discussed with staff and their representatives.”
A Trinity Mirror spokesman said: “Due to the lease requirements Trinity Mirror has only been granted a six-month license for the occupation of Scott place.
“Therefore we are required to relocate operations and it is proposed to relocate to Trinity Mirror’s Greater Manchester premises in Oldham.”
The proposed move comes hard on the heels of last year’s centralisation of all MEN Media weekly editorial staff at Scott Place and the closure of most of the company’s satellite offices.
In a joint statement, Bethan Dorsett, mother of the NUJ chapel at the MEN Media weeklies and Judith Gordon, mother of the MEN chapel, said the move made no sense.
“We will also be questioning the plan to move all journalists, who have already coped admirably in spite of the savage job cuts and office closures last year, to Oldham,” they said.
“Does moving the company’s flagship newspaper away from the city centre make business sense? We think not.”
Mr C (09/02/2010 14:39:07)
It looks like Trinity don’t really have much choice but to move, if they’ve only got the building for 6 months. Maybe the union should be a bit more helpful here.
Bluestringer (09/02/2010 15:13:36)
Did moving the Livepool Echo presses out of the city centre make business sense? We think not. Except it obviously did. What the NUJ knows about “business sense” could comfortably fit on the back of a bus ticket.
Mr Goode (09/02/2010 15:17:02)
Mr C: moving the office is one thing. Moving it to an industrial estate on the edge of a town 10 miles away, however, is quite another.
Now Oldham has two daily newspapers – the Oldham Chron and the Manchester Evening News – and there are none based in Manchester, Salford, Rochdale or Stockport.
Mr Goode (09/02/2010 15:20:08)
Bluestringer: You seem to have misunderstood the story. They’re not talking about moving the printing presses out of Manchester – all their newspaper are already based in Oldham.
They are talking about covering news in Manchester (as well as every weekly as far away as Macclesfield about 50 miles away) from an industrial estate on the outskirts of Oldham.
Journo (09/02/2010 15:35:04)
Bluestringer – it was great “business sense” of course. That’s why a huge chunk of readers (and advertisers) in Liverpool refused to – and still do – buy (and advertise in) the Echo on the basis it’s no longer within their city. What Trinity Mirror knows about journalism could comfortably fit on the back of a bus ticket – and there would still be a fair bit of space left.
Bluestringer (09/02/2010 16:09:23)
I do not believe a ‘huge chunk’ of readers and advertisers jumped ship because the paper is printed outside the city walls. And even if they did, there’s going to be an avalanche of this “consolidation” stuff when the Tories rip up the monopoly rule book, so I think it would be wise if the NUJ got cracking on having some sort of strategic plan of opposition instead of guffawing archly about Trinity’s lack of business sense.
Paul (09/02/2010 16:10:12)
GMG retaining the lease on Scott Place is a pretty big liability – what on earth are they going to do with it after 6 months?
I’m pretty sure there’s something like 25 years left to run on it and it costs millions. Two out of five floors have already been empty for over a year. Nobody is going to buy them out of the lease as there’s a huge abundance of office space in Manchester.
Maybe they’re going to relocate some of The Guardian up to Manchester, following the BBC? They do need to save £100k a month… and they’re more likely to be able to sublet some of the shiny new London office space.
JustifiedPessamism (09/02/2010 17:04:32)
Most people seem to be missing the main point here, which is that moving the Manchester Evening News – arguably the region’s flagship local title – out of the city which it covers is another sizeable nail in the coffin of regional journalism. I don’t work for the MEN but I am a regular reader – and I really fear for its future under this lot.
Trinity victim (09/02/2010 17:27:46)
The staff at MEN should prepare themselves for a bloodbath. TM know only how to slash, chop, axe and cut. If anyone at MEN wants a look at their future, travel a few miles down the M6 to Birmingham where Trinity have made the once great powerhouse post n mail group a shadow of its former self. What a shame no one will buy TM and get rid of Sly Bailey.
Andy (10/02/2010 09:27:12)
Trinity Victim’s view of the world only works if you assume that the Post and Mail was a ‘powerhouse’ when Trinity took it over. Well documented history tells us that wasn’t the case at all. It’s also a myth that lots of advertisers jumped ship from the ECHO when printing was moved to Oldham. A lot of troublemakers tried to suggest the whole paper was moving over there, which it didn’t. It’s ironic that on a website dedicated to journalism, journalists are so keen to share myths and settle old personal scores on stories which have nothing to do with the old gripes they are going on about.
Dan Depan (10/02/2010 10:22:02)
actually it moves the MEN closer to its former core sales areas of east manchester – if only they hadn’t dumped their readers to chase the yuppies in the city centre flats it could even be seen as a good thing.
Oldham may be ten miles away … the presses in Chadderton are no more than four miles from the city centre, three stops on the Metro extension when it’s complete! Look on the bright side it means that the Rochdale Observer and Oldham Advertiser reporters have moved closer to their patch after being shunted into Manchester city centre!
Worker (10/02/2010 11:57:51)
Andy, make sure you log that comment in the brown-nosing logbook. It will definitely bank some brownie points!
Andy (10/02/2010 12:53:33)
So someone who has a differing opinion to you has to be a company brownnose do they, worker?
Dan makes a good point about chasing the Yuppy set. The MEN went through a spell where it felt the parish rag for the Cheshire set, although that has changed in recent times.