Trinity Mirror has been accused of “crossing the Rubicon” out of print journalism after its announcement of seven newspaper closures.
The company has announced that the Reading Post is to cease print publication along with GetReading, the Wokingham and Bracknell Times, Surrey Herald, Surrey Times, Woking Informer and Harrow Observer.
Instead it is adopting what it is calling a “bold, digital only approach,” focusing on growing its websites in the Berkshire and West London areas.
The National Union of Journalists has described the announcement as a “watershed momment” for the regional press industry.
Chris Morley, Trinity Mirror NUJ group chapel officer, said: “This is Trinity Mirror appearing to cross the Rubicon out of print.
“This announcement will send shivers down the spine of journalists throughout the group and beyond because we are still nowhere near a position where digital revenue by itself can sustain an infrastructure of quality journalism.”
Ian Proctor, FoC of West London and Bucks, said: “This is a sickening blow for west London editorial employees. It is the second round of redundancies faced by them this year, amid more optimist overtones from Canary Wharf.
“Only this week the Harrow Observer, which can trace its roots back to 1855, was being held up in the council chamber for its coverage of the opposition to local government cuts. Supporters on social media are already mourning the loss of a respected local newspaper.”
Martin Shipton, chair of the Trinity Mirror NUJ group chapel, said: “This is a watershed moment for the regional newspaper industry. Trinity Mirror is shutting down well-established titles and replacing them with an online news presence unattached to newspapers.
“So far there is little evidence that an operation of this kind can generate the revenues needed to sustain a workforce of sufficient size to provide a decent news service.”
Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, added: “This announcement is a huge shock for everyone affected. Trinity Mirror must have been working on these proposals for some time, but breathed no word, not even when meeting with the government minister on the future of the sector just last week.
“These announcements back up the urgent need for government intervention to stop the loss of distinct, local titles with a job to do in serving their communities and the democratic interest.”