19 April 2014

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Trinity Mirror set to axe 92 regional jobs in content-sharing move

Newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror is set to axe 92 jobs at the same time as creating 52 new roles as part of a move toward more content sharing across its regional and national titles.

A new publishing model is to be unveiled as part of what the company is calling an “integrated approach to creating and sharing first-class content across the group. ”

It will mean the establishment of a new shared content unit based in Liverpool, producing feature pages that can be used across similar regional titles, covering subjects such as health, travel, fashion, food, entertainment and reviews.

And 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.

Other changes will see a “much enhanced focus” in the regional titles on the curation of community content, which the company said had already proved popular with readers.

And workflow changes will see the reintroduction of early shifts on some regional titles, with the initial focus being on breaking news online before the focus shifts to the overnight print product later in the day.

The company said in a statement today:  “These changes will result in a net reduction of approximately 40 editorial roles and consultation with affected staff has already begun.

“The company hopes to achieve any redundancies by voluntary means as well as redeploying staff, where possible, to newly-created roles under the new publishing operation.”

All of the 92 jobs to go will be on the group’s regional newspapers, while around half of the 52 new jobs to be created will be on the national titles.

New roles to be created on the regional titles include around 12 community content curators, eight regional digital roles and around four new journalist roles.

Regional editorial director Neil Benson said:  “Our newsrooms have made great progress in embracing the digital world in recent years but, essentially, our processes have remained print-led.

“This new approach is a bold, imaginative step that will enable us to become a fully-fledged, digitally-focused news operation, and brings together for the first time the best of our regional and national journalism.

No regional editor roles are at risk in the shake-up, but the job losses are expected to affect some executive editor and newsdesk roles as well as reporting, production and features staff.

Added Neil:  “It is never easy to make these decisions when it affects our colleagues in this way but we must re-engineer the way we work if our journalism is to thrive in the future.”

The planned job cuts, which will take place across Trinity main regional centres in Cardiff, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle, have already sparked protests from politicians and union leaders.

Barry Fitzpatrick, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said: “This will hugely undermine journalism on these titles. It will have a serious impact on newsrooms across the country and the working conditions of staff. It is a short-sighted strategy which will rob communities of good locally-based journalism.

“The NUJ is now studying the proposals and we will be seeking talks at a national level, as this is clearly a national strategy.”

More reaction focusing specifically on how the company’s plans will affect its Welsh titles can be read here.

43 Comments

  1. Bluestringer

    More evidence of the lemming-like death wish infecting the crazy world of regional publishing.

    This new unit will be churning out yards and yards of “non local” material for regional newspapers – but why?

    They seem hell-bent on making themselves less and less relevant to the “communities which we serve” as their PR people insist on calling the readers.

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  2. Zeds

    Utter madness.

    Report this comment

  3. J Dale

    Mmm, it would seem 20 jobs are going in Birmingham alone. Is this job losses in the Midlands only? The story (or perhaps Trinity Mirror) doesn’t really make it clear.

    Report this comment

  4. Bob the builder

    “non-local material for all of Trinity Mirror’s regional newspapers”
    Isn’t that what PA is for?
    Oh no! Better shut up. Might give someone ideas.

    Report this comment

  5. J Dale

    Ah, story has just been updated, though it would still appear that 16 jobs are going in Birmingham, a hefty chunk from a nationwide business in a regional office that has already been hard hit

    Report this comment

  6. cb

    FFS
    RIP
    BPM

    Report this comment

  7. Affected, Newcastle

    15 jobs going in Newcastle as a good chunk of features production moves to Liverpool. Yes, Bob the Builder, they have already had the PA for all idea.

    Report this comment

  8. Sub-a-dub-dub, Manchester

    Community content curator? I’d rather slash my wrists. Whatever happened to real journalism?

    Report this comment

  9. ivylikes, Hants

    Community content curators?

    Report this comment

  10. Zeds

    Community content curators?

    Are they having a laugh?

    Find me the shiny-suited, bleach-toothed, bean-counting idiot who came up with that – I’ll happily smash his face in.

    Report this comment

  11. bluecollar, talking treason with me comrades

    So paraphrasing the final quotes:
    ‘“This new approach is a bold, imaginative step that will enable us to become a fully-fledged, digitally-focused news operation, and brings together for the first time the best of our regional and national journalism”’

    becomes

    ”Should have done this 10 years ago at start of digital revolution. Ah well, fingers crossed we might wing it through the next 18 months with minimal staff”

    And

    “It is never easy to make these decisions when it affects our colleagues in this way but we must re-engineer the way we work if our journalism is to thrive in the future.”

    is of course

    ”I’m alright Jack (for the time-being)”

    Report this comment

  12. Man the Lifeboats

    The weekly newspapers are under deadly attack
    The problems for the weeklies stem from the regional newspapers, who own them, having a stranglehold on the editorial management of them.
    Quite clearly the regionals see their only salvation as helping themselves to lots of local news content plus all the weekly exclusives, and then often giving them away to readers.
    It’s largely a no brainer to expect readers of the weeklies to stump 60p instead of picking up a regional free of charge to read all the best weekly stories in there.
    In my opinion the weeklies need to fight back and they need to start by disentangling themselves from these iniquitous owners.

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  13. IsItJustMe

    I suggested a similar plan to a boss of a regional newspaper group years ago.

    Most features journos in the regional press are pants!

    Report this comment

  14. Fred Bloggs

    But, Circulations have been tumbling for the past 20 years. We may want to write good local stories but does the great public want to read them day in day out.

    There are some great weeklies who seem to have more consistent circulation but there has been declining circulation and readership since before the Internet, tablets, PDF’s Smartphones, Fish4, Fish5 or whatever, Rightmove.

    We might want to do a great job sniffing out good loal stories but are we kidding ourselves if we expect the public to support that by buying our papers?

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  15. Run Away Ed

    Man the lifeboats – the weeklies can’t “fight back”. A load of them don’t even have real editors these days and suffer from a shortage of reporters. They are a feeble, lookalike waste of trees, full of press releases and thrown together in regional centres.

    The latest nu-speak rubbish of curators and such like is just another throw of the dice. In times of crisis, management bods are always very busy on ‘vital projects’ to justify their own existence as the axe swings about.

    I’m sure they know that stuffing even more generic filler into the papers will not help matters. Eventually the big groups will implode with all this hot air and nonsense and then we can get back to real local journalism, whether online or in print.

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  16. J Dale

    ‘Community content curators’ and upping ‘reader generated content’ too I see. Welcome to the world of Joe Bloggs’ journalism. Those in positions of power who don’t like having their failings and misdemeanours being exposed must be rubbing their hands in glee. The thing is they’re trying to sell this s**t to journalists who can spot it a mile off. Would the last person at Trinity Mirror please remember to turn the lights out.

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  17. Tony Carney, Devon

    What a total load of rubbish

    “integrated approach to creating and sharing first-class content across the group. ”

    Report this comment

  18. Affected, Newcastle

    Community content curators have no editorial or legal training. That’ll end well, eh?

    Report this comment

  19. Affected, Newcastle

    Chief toggie found out he was redundant during editor’s speech. Utterly crass.

    Report this comment

  20. stillabeliever

    Great to see the new CEO has learnt so quickly to continue the terrific work started by the last one!

    Report this comment

  21. ex-hack, Newcastle

    IsItJustMe

    Most of the features writers I know in the regional press have won awards in health/crime/hard news as well as features – that’s an incredibly crass and ignorant comment

    Report this comment

  22. Romero

    Will people stop finishing comments with the old “..please turn out the lights” line please. It’s incredibly cliched. We are supposed to be journalists.

    Report this comment

  23. Beenthereseenit

    Features folk out there – remember TOFS – Thomson Online Features Service which was set up to share features across the newsrooms, including the nationals …a nightmare which didn’t last long.
    Surely when news is delivered minute by minute online it is the features pages which can do much to define a newspaper’s sense of locality.

    Report this comment

  24. wilber

    not one journo on the board… says it all. A bunch of bean counters

    Report this comment

  25. Bluestringer

    Will the last person to complain about people finishing comments with “please turn out the lights” please turn out the lights.

    Report this comment

  26. Affected, Newcastle

    It appears the chief toggie was told he was out on his ear before the announcement. So that’s all right then.

    Report this comment

  27. Typo, UK

    Centralised writing? Not only will this wipe out any chance of building local contacts, but it’ll also mean writers have a lack of local knowledge – this can only lead to embarrassing mistakes and potentially some bad legal problems in stories.
    Unless they made the phone line cheap local rate, members of the public will be reluctant to phone a journalist in a different part of the country, too.

    Report this comment

  28. J Dale

    Journalists use the most cliched phrases imaginable Romero – in case you hadn’t noticed. Pick up any newspaper – regional or national – and you’ll find it full of them. Writers who don’t put enough in generally have their cliche count upped considerably by the subs. That said, as we speak I expect Trinity Mirror are running secret trials of an add-on to their Contentwatch system that actually writes stories – containing the requisite number of cliches of course!

    Report this comment

  29. Peter Jeffery

    Cool head
    Back to basics. Trained journalists free to dig out the real stories is the only way to let the public know what is going on and prevent them being exploited by those in or with power.
    The only points at issue are the means by which reporters get the information to the readers, and how to finance it. How about publishers becoming not-for-profit registered charities?

    Report this comment

  30. lensman

    What lights ?

    Report this comment

  31. Enough Is Enough, Coventry

    We had an editor who saw it coming. He fought the bosses by showing them how the accounts books could balance using proper journalists.

    He had a digital plan which was praised but eventually dismissed as “too forward-thinking” and “a bit radical”. Shame, it looked like a winner to us.

    He slowly eradicated stupid job titles like MMJ, MMD etc and actually called people reporters, news editors and sub-editors. It made us feel like journalists again.

    During wave upon wave of cutbacks he carried Trinity Mirror’s instructions out with an equal amount of disdain for the task in hand and respect for colleagues whose jobs were under threat. It was sensitive and measured.

    Between these times and behind the scenes he fought hard to protect his newspaper without so much as a thank you from us because we didn’t know about half the battles he was fighting on our behalf.

    His reward? The boot as soon as TM found the excuse.

    I can’t help thinking we wouldn’t be in this mess if they’d not been so blinkered and just listened to his ideas. I’m not saying he had all the answers and would have saved the industry – nobody can do that – but at least the sh*t we’re in would not be so deep as it is now.

    We’d also have had the news broken to us in a way that would make us feel like valued human beings. The speech we had to endure the other day was borderline shameful. We would have laughed had it not been so serious and embarrassing.

    Now we await the pretend sympathy from the over-efficient HR representatives as they scramble to tick their boxes.

    Let’s face it, this is all too little too late and management continue to sit there pretending to care while looking after their friends and not listening to people who might have the right ideas.

    They don’t deserve our loyalty any more. It’s too late for that and it’s too late for regional newspapers.

    I am genuinely writing this with tears running down my cheeks.

  32. redundant hack, lancashire

    Community content curator! Brilliant! In charge of what we used to call “village idiots” – community correspondents. Ditched by my old daily paper after a disastrous experiment that I was put in charge of in the 90s. Oh how we laughed at the non-stories, the self-interest, the legal problems and the idiots recycling stories written originally by our own staffers……

    Report this comment

  33. MD

    Community content = badly written, grammatically incorrect, ill researched twaddle from semi-literate readers with no idea about proper journalism. Liverpool content hub.. well they’ll know a lot of about interests and events in areas like Birmingham and I’m sure they’ll be sending hacks all the way down to review new works at the Rep or Hippodrome. and obviously they will have brilliant local contacts to get the same stories that those actually based in the other cities will have. Trinity Mirror are apparently keen to develop the online presence of their regional titles.. er, what online prescence?

    Report this comment

  34. Observer

    There’ll be no lights to turn off.

    Those sensor-controlled efforts need people to move beneath them before they turn on, and since there’s no people…

    Report this comment

  35. Proper job

    Did any of Trinity Mirrors directors and execs actually poll or survey the readers, who at the bottom line are the main part of this story. No, didn’t think so. It’s utterly inapropriate to make changes to a product without assessing the impact it has on the customer. This is why newspapers are treading water and in some cases drowning, the readers will not put up with second-rate press releases, tediously linked national stories to local issues, and photos which have been garnered from facebook (one Trinity title I hold to example is a paper in the midlands in which every page has a large mobile phone pic of the articles subject, very poor approach). I stopped buying my local paper because it just isn’t cutting the mustard anymore after it became obvious from the content staff had been made redundant.

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  36. J Dale

    ‘Romero’ – turn off your lights please – you’re dazzling me. Come on! We all know that as journalists we resort to cliches on a daily basis. That said, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Trinity Mirror were currently trialing an automated story creating system – complete with cliches. Either that or resort to employing content curators in India.

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  37. Scribbler

    Been there (bean there?) with JP, done that. The sad thing is, there are so many “local” stories that need reporting and that HAS to be done by trained journalists with a proper eye for a story and knowledge of how to put said story together.
    The other sad thing is, most people’s concentration span seems only long enough these days to read tweets. RIP, the well-reseached, well-written feature. As Paul Weller said: “The public gets what the public wants…”

    Report this comment

  38. Scoop

    Scribbler I think hits the nail absolutely on the head. Sad to say as a long-time advocate of and worker in the regional press, length is dead. Provide writing of the highest quality and still people won’t read it because life is quicker and people have become accustomed to snippets. Find out the salient points and move on. There’s so much else to look at or do, regardless of how trivial it seems to those who can only see anything from a print point of view

    Report this comment

  39. Fencehopper

    “semi-literate readers”

    And I wonder why readers don’t really connect with reporters these days…

    Report this comment

  40. Enough Is Enough, Coventry

    Just gone through the information we were given.

    There isn’t a single sacrifice being made in management at any level – not even the cap-doffing lieutenants.

    How many managers do they need in advertising where all the staff have just been issued with iPads. Yes, you read that correctly – they all now have iPads.

    Every drop of good blood being spilled here comes direct from the veins of the lower ranks in editorial while the pen-pushers and generals stay safe miles away from the battlefield.

    Report this comment

  41. Wordy

    Scribbler, Paul Weller said: “The public wants what the public gets.” If that’s true then maybe the public are only seeming to want short tweets and dumbed-down features because that’s all they get these days. Maybe?! Either way, it’s a sad state of affairs

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  42. Wordy

    Missed the world *also” out there damnit. Paul Weller also said!

    Report this comment

  43. Enough Is Enough, Coventry

    CORRECTION: Just been reliably informed by an ad manager that they’re not iPads. No, they’ve all been given new MacBooks and smart phones. Poor journalism on my part for getting that wrong. Pretty sure we’ll enjoy sacrificing reporters to help pay for them.

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