An award-winning political journalist is among those facing the axe as part of the current round of job cuts at Trinity Mirror, HTFP can reveal.
Les Reid, left, political correspondent and columnist for the Coventry Telegraph, is the current Midlands Journalist of the Year and Daily News Reporter of the Year.
Yet he is among six members of the paper’s editorial staff facing redundancy as part of wider cutbacks at the regional publisher, which is axing 92 posts across its regional titles.
HTFP understands two feature writers, a sports reporter, a reporter from one of the paper’s associated weeklies, and a member of the production team are also facing the axe in Coventry.
Les’s plight is now set to become a political story in itself, with Coventry South MP Jim Cunningham taking up the issue in a Commons early day motion, with the support of fellow city MP Geoffrey Robinson.
Mr Cunningham has also requested a meeting with Coventry Telegraph editor Alun Thorne about the proposed cutbacks.
He told HTFP: “We are concerned that more and more is being taken away from local journalism – and at the end of the day we may lose local newspapers altogether.
“In particular, to be cutting Les Reid’s post seems very unusual. He has won awards for his work and all other newspapers are keeping their political correspondents. We cannot understand it at all.”
Mr Cunningham’s EDM says the proposal “remove a long-standing tradition of political journalism in Coventry by making the post of political correspondent redundant whilst Trinity Mirror titles in other major cities would retain their political specialist.”
Leader of Coventry City Council John Mutton and opposition leader Kevin Foster have both also vowed to write to Trinity Mirror bosses in support of Les.
As well as taking home two gongs at the Midland Media Awards last year, Les also won Newspaper Reporter of the Year for the Midlands region at the 2009 Birmingham Press Club Awards and has worked on a number of high-profile investigations.
Most recently, this included an investigation into the aggressive tactics used by bailiffs, which helped influence a change in government policy to govern their behaviour announced last month.
Chris Morley, the NUJ’s Northern and Midlands organiser, told HTFP he was concerned about the scale of the job losses, which make up almost a quarter of the 25-strong Coventry team.
“As the EDM states, this many people going from what is a relatively small team is going to impact on coverage,” he said.
“All of the jobs are important, but the role of political correspondent in particular is a very high-profile one. I have grave concerns about how a city the size of Coventry, and the wider Warwickshire area, will have its political issues aired to the wider public without a dedicated correspondent.”
Chris added that NUJ chapels across the country were currently discussing balloting on strike action.
Mr Cunningham’s EDM also expresses fears that the proposals by Trinity Mirror would over-stretch staff, warning that the quality of local journalism may suffer and urging the government to “protect and encourage” local journalism.
Trinity Mirror announced last month that it was axing 92 posts at its regional titles at the same time as creating 52 new roles across its national and regional divisions, as part of a move toward more content sharing across its regional and national titles.
It will mean a new shared content unit based in Liverpool will be created, producing feature pages that can be used across similar regional titles, covering subjects such as health, travel, fashion, food, entertainment and reviews.
There will also be closer working between the national and regional titles, with Daily Mirror reporters embedded in regional newsrooms and content being shared across all of Trinity Mirror’s newspapers and digital platforms.
A Trinity Mirror spokesman said: “We’re currently in consultation with our staff and their representatives and we hope to achieve any redundancies by voluntary means as well as redeploying staff, where possible, to newly-created roles under the new publishing operation.”