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Local journalism ‘probably beyond saving’ says Twitter storm journalist

Gareth-Davies-new-e1463476484158An award-winning journalist who quit his job amid a newsroom shake-up has stepped up his attacks on his former employer in a lengthy blog post.

Gareth Davies, formerly of the Croydon Advertiser, created a weekend ‘Twitter storm’ with a series of criticisms of the paper’s new owners, Trinity Mirror.

Now he has published a “long read” on the issue on the SubScribe journalism blog in which he claims that local journalism is “probably beyond saving” in its traditional form.

In response, Trinity Mirror has accused Gareth, who took voluntary redundancy from the Advertiser in June, of “misrepresenting” the paper and engaging in a “personal crusade” against the company.

In his latest piece, Gareth lays bare his reasons for deciding to leave the paper, weeks after being named Weekly Reporter of the Year at the Regional Press Awards for the fourth year running.

He reveals he asked to leave because he disagreed with the implementation of TM’s digital first ‘Newsroom 3.1′ initiative, which is in the process of being rolled-out across the company.

He wrote: “I asked to leave because I believe Newsroom 3.1 is the beginning of the end of the Advertiser as a newspaper. I’ve seen the impact of similar changes at Newsquest papers in south London and want no part of it.

“What is happening at my former paper is indicative of a wider problem undermining local journalism – to such an extent that it is probably beyond saving, at least in its traditional form.”

According to Gareth, all of the group’s editorial assistants were also made redundant overnight – including one with 16 years’ service who he claims was told she had lost her job over the phone while on a school run.

He also claimed the paper’s remaining journalists had been told to “make serious compromises to fundamental journalistic standards” and were being instructed to lift quotes from a rival paper.

Gareth admitted the Advertiser had not been “problem free” before TM’s takeover of the former Northcliffe and Local World title, referencing the departures of former editor Glenn Ebrey and long-serving local government correspondent Ian Austin last year.

He wrote: “Our editor left with no permanent job to go to when he was told by his Local World bosses that crime was going to be barred from the front page of the paper following complaints from commercial managers. The company would later replace a journalist of 45 years’ experience with two part-time reporters tasked with writing lists for the website.

“Similar issues have affected local and regional newspapers up and down the country. Some, including some owned by Trinity Mirror, have been closed or become online-only.

“While taken individually, these problems might seem inconsequential, the end result has been to create an industry that, as a whole, is unable to adequately fulfil the role of local journalism – to provide a public service, to be a vital part of democratic accountability, to be a force for change for causes that would otherwise go unnoticed and to chart social history.”

SubScribe’s owner, Liz Gerard, had earlier published a blog post of her own in which she echoed some of Gareth’s criticisms, for instance the consolidation of multiple titles under single editors.

“There are many reasons why local papers are struggling, but the consolidation of operations that take journalists physically ever further from their readers must be a key factor,” she wrote.

In repsonse, a Trinity Mirror spokeswoman said: “None of the claims made by Gareth Davies stacks up. Every one of his points is either a misinterpretation of basic standard practice or completely untrue.

“It is clear he is intent on misrepresenting the Croydon Advertiser and Trinity Mirror, the people who work here and the journalism we produce as part of a personal crusade. We, meanwhile, will continue with our strategy of evolving to ensure a future for our titles.”

31 comments

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  • August 2, 2016 at 2:23 pm
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    It’s true that Gareth’s comments represent a “personal crusade” of sorts, but that’s understandable.

    He, like so many of us, has spent the past decade or so watching the industry being gradually destroyed by a succession of “exciting” changes and “innovative” schemes, all of which seem to revolve around fewer and fewer staff putting out an increasingly poor product.

    I know the phrase “(s)he’s only saying what we’re all thinking” isn’t always true – I often hear it used to justify all kinds of outdated, reactionary, fuddy-duddy worldviews – but in this case it’s wholly apt.

    No sane person working on the frontline of the corporate-owned local media world could reach any other conclusion. They’ve seen it unfold, like a car crash in super-slow motion, before their very eyes.

    The product is getting worse, working conditions are getting worse, pay is stagnating, demands are increasing and if the trend continues the industry will be dead in under a decade. Simple as.

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  • August 2, 2016 at 2:37 pm
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    I work for JP and we were “asked” by our commercial manager to try to limit crime on front and inside some of our papers.

    It is in response to free weeklies and monthlies starting up focusing on “good news” ie. press releases and, like said above. advertisers complaining about “negative portrayals” of the towns and cities.

    It’s only going to get worse

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  • August 2, 2016 at 4:07 pm
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    I was about to side with Gareth. Then I read an online article about ‘the remarkable ins and outs in the Aviva Premiership this year’ and I had a change of heart.
    Seriously, not only did Gareth have the courage to speak out, but he has continued to back up his claims.
    Some of the copy produced on Trinity websites – and in their papers – is beyond embarrassing and there is a short-termism to their strategy. Once advertisers realise they are dealing with a sub-standard product, they will retreat.
    And I wonder if the top brass at Trinity will still be singing from the Newsroom 3.1 hymn sheet if the redundancy police head their way.

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  • August 2, 2016 at 4:21 pm
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    4-5 years ago a senior commercial “chief” told us that in a very short period of time the companys weekly and daily newspapers would be gone due to declining sales and how people would access news, and the companys news output and commercial viability would be wholly digital so staff had better ” get on the bus and adapt to digital or get out”
    its interesting to report that he is long gone yet half of his predictions were correct,the papers are dying and almost gone but there`s still no sign of digital making money so yes, i have to agree with Gareth.

    All the points and issues he raises are common across the industry with no one having any real idea how to overcome them; declining sales,the growth of stronger local competitor publications,the collapse of sustainable ad revenues and yields,poor content,over stretched staff ,lack of direction,greed in the persuit of profit and changed readership habits are all contributing to a dismal future for the uk regional press and those left hanging on in there so its hard to disagree with the points being made and gareths view of the future

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  • August 2, 2016 at 4:23 pm
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    The reason for all the above is that everything has to be done on the cheap, except senior executives’ remuneration. And there’s the rub; a corporation partly exists to preserve the wealth of its top 5% and, in good times, there is nothing wrong with this – it’s capitalism as we know and love it. But margins are squeezed and the kind of in-depth, morally fuelled campaigning journalism in which Gareth specialises is too expensive, even on a low salary. The suits’ answer is to cut costs, usually people like Gareth, and replace them with even lower paid hirelings churning out cheap rubbish like listicles. So, yes, local journalism is to all intents and purposes dead when being purveyed by corporations like TM. If Gareth and others want to do something about it they need to instigate an entrepreneurial revolution and set up themselves in small-scale outfits adapted to the times. He helped to give us the superb Lillian’s Law; is he up for this challenge?

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  • August 2, 2016 at 4:43 pm
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    Well done young fella. Like I said in my comments on the previous article, keep going, keep speaking out and hold on to your hard-earned integrity.

    I was the editor of the JP-owned Hartlepool Mail when the rot set in. The MD of the group was an ex-advertising rep, my paper’s MD’s former job was selling car parts, the advertising manager was a former welder and his deputy had been an electrician down the pit. All of them at various times told me how my choice of front page lead stories were having a ‘negative commercial impact’ on the paper. I told them all (not even politely) to go away with the second word being off.

    I’ll point out that I have nothing against welders, miners or car part salesmen, but I won’t have them giving advice on newspaper content.

    The rot set in at that time (15-20 years ago) when advertising money was rolling in and various shysters in smart suits entered the industry. Then some bright sparks decided that digital was the answer. We know where that led.

    Sadly, the industry had all too few Harry Blackwoods in my day and these days it has very few journalists with the balls that Gareth has.

    If anyone doubts how the nuggets who took over the industry in my day have ruined it, they need only look at JP’s share price. When I was sent home on gardening leave the share price was about 650p. It’s now about 13p. Very soon the company will be bust. I’ll laugh and I’ll get to say I told you so. Again.

    Well done Gareth. Keep em coming.

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  • August 2, 2016 at 5:10 pm
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    Whoah… I think the response by a Trinity Mirror spokeswoman that “None of the claims made by Gareth Davies stacks up” and that “every one of his points is either a misinterpretation of basic standard practice or completely untrue” is way, way wide of the mark.

    And to add the personal comment that “he is intent on misrepresenting the Croydon Advertiser and Trinity Mirror, the people who work here and the journalism we produce as part of a personal crusade” is also just unnecessary.

    Look around you, TM, and see the anger, disappointment and frustration that so many young journalists (as well as old journalists) are expressing.

    Doubtlessly, there are parts of Gareth’s blog that are debateable, and some of these parts have indeed been debated, not least by TM’s own David Higgerson who wants to have such conversations.

    But to try to pull rank, close ranks and pillory a single individual who is brave enough to put his name to comments feels, well, it feels like ‘Pravda’. It’s not quite that, of course, but impression are important, and openness and discussion are crucial in the UK media. If not there, where?

    When industry has a whistleblower, industry bosses initially try to gang up on such individuals, hounding/threatening and making them feel personally vulnerable.

    I know TM doesn’t really mean to do that. But as said, impressions are important, and that TM statement feels wrong.

    Engage, explain, agree to disagree, but please, please, don’t shoot the one messenger (currently) who’s trying to talk to you about how changes are making him feel.

    Sometimes I like Harry B’s comments, and sometimes I don’t. On this thread, please calm it a little Harry B… the lads already done enough, and no-one needs to egg on this situation.

    We are the UK media. We can discuss. We can disagree. But on this issue above all others, let’s nopt draw battle lines and throw insults.

    Reason. Argue. Pontificate. Disagree. End of.

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  • August 2, 2016 at 5:29 pm
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    The local newspaper industry would have a future if it listened to what this young man is saying. Newsroom 3.1 sounds like yet another management strategy to save money by clearing out staff and assuring themselves of an annual bonus. The bosses got the bug for these sound-good schemes with their Biggest to Best masterplan of a decade ago. New CE maybe but the same directors and divisional heads are trotting out the same old pap.

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  • August 2, 2016 at 5:43 pm
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    Have to agree with Steve Dyson on TM’s response to Gareth’s points.
    Since what Gareth says rings so true for so many of us – both TM escapees like me (via redundo) and others still in the business – any case TM might be trying to make is completely negated by what I will politely call “being in denial” but unfortunately has the air of something else quite nasty.
    To TM “spokeswoman”: I know you are only doing your job, but come on.

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  • August 2, 2016 at 9:16 pm
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    Wow. The legendary Steve Dyson likes some of my comments and then advises me to calm it.

    Nothing to calm. I say it like it is. You should try it instead of spending so much time getting splinters in your backside from sitting on the fence.

    I drew my battle lines many years when I watched legions of chancers, imposters and ‘yes men’ infest my industry. I know which side I’m on. Do you?

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  • August 2, 2016 at 10:19 pm
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    With an element of respect for pitching a view which he clearly feels passionate about, there does seem to be a fundamental flaw in his argument here.

    To quote from his article: “The image I tweeted was of two consecutive pages….The tweets (you can find a helpful summary of them here) prompted a large response, receiving 400,000 impressions within 24 hours.”

    Someone clearly pleased with himself for reaching a large online audience.

    And can I be bold enough to suggest the headline on his article “Why the Trinity Mirror model threatens local journalism” may itself be regarded as “clickbait”. It certainly promises more than it delivers.

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  • August 3, 2016 at 8:50 am
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    Well said that man.

    It’s in the best interests of what remains of the top brass at TM to protect the status quo because it’s their meal ticket, but they can’t be people who love journalism.

    Trinity Mirror’s last two leaders weren’t journalists, they were from HMV or AOL or Domestos or whatever, they were so unimportant I can’t reven remember nor do I care to look it up.

    There’s been such a cull of talented people there that being a senior figure there now is as hollow a reflection of their ability as Hitler’s moustache waxer being made grand admiral of the German navy three hours after he shot himself in the head, there is literally nobody else left to do the job.

    All this is moot anyway – you’re talking about a company that started a newspaper and then closed it in nine weeks. It’s proven for the world to see that it knows as much about the nature of journalism as Tarzan knows about men’s fashions – its critics have no burden of proof to find.

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  • August 3, 2016 at 9:04 am
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    We all know what he’s saying is true of all major local newspaper groups. It’s just refreshing to hear somebody coming out and saying it. Too often people are concerned about burning their bridges and management are able to feign ignorance towards the feelings on the ground. Will it make any difference? Probably not.

    But it can’t hurt for the “just roll up your sleeves and get on with it” breed of manager to hear that journalists really are starting to despair at the direction their titles are taking.

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  • August 3, 2016 at 10:34 am
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    Good points Jeff. Tim Bowdler, the former CEO of Johnston Press who went on a mad buying spree used to be CEO of a cement company. What he knew about journalism could be written on a stamp with a big felt tip pen. The new fella knows even less.

    Like I said earlier, the industry was hijacked by imposters and now they’ve infested it to such an extent that it’s finished.

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  • August 3, 2016 at 11:08 am
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    I can’t help feeling we, as journalists, are as much to blame for all this.
    Old school editors were replaced with thrusting go-getters beholding to the bean counters, while the rank and file ploughed on believing it was a brave new world and modernisation was inevitable.
    What we didn’t do soon enough was recognise the transition to corporate values and organise and mobilise against the attack on mainstream journalism and its community values.

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  • August 3, 2016 at 12:11 pm
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    Citizen. I don’t like labels but I like to think I was a combination of old school and go-getter (minus the beholding to the bean counters). I DID see the transition to corporate values and paid for my resistance to those changes (and other issues) with my job.

    I have no regrets. As I hurtle towards my dotage my integrity and honesty is intact and most of what I argued against has resulted in the dramatic decline of the industry I was proud to work in for more than 30 years.

    I’m sure in years to come Gareth Davies will feel the same as me. I’m also in no doubt his criticism of TMs brave new world will prove to have been a salutary warning that they’d have been advised to listen to.

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  • August 3, 2016 at 12:17 pm
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    Harry, your figures are wrong. JP share price used to be 650p, now around 13p. You forgot about the 50x consolidation, so share price is actually 0.27p in old money. Highfield is as bad a Bowdler, company value is currently £14m which includes the recent £24m i purchase.
    If like me, any of you worked at a daily paper 10-20 years ago, it was fun. Very busy, people respected the local paper and bought it, selling 75k in my time, I believe my old paper now sells around 17k now. I suspect if this young lad worked on a busy daily in the good old years he would have lots more to moan about the current state of the industry. You can’t turn back the clock, nor get the readers back. Move on, change career, and enjoy life.

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  • August 3, 2016 at 12:34 pm
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    Whilst it is hard to fault the passion – and courage – of Gareth Davies, which has undoubtedly added a dynamism to the debate about the demise of the regional press, I fear he misses the point.

    The behaviour of TM et al, is born out of the desperate situation in which they find themselves. Caught between the rock of their investors and the hard place of declining audiences and revenues, life must be pretty tough in those ivory towers.

    It is easy, far too easy, to blame the state of the industry on the spiral of economies and cost-cutting undertaken by the major media groups, although it undoubtedly does not help the situation. Burdened with ill-acquired debt and disastrously declining revenues, what can they do, save hang on in hope?

    The bottom line is that we get the regional press that the public are prepared to pay for. Since the mid-80s at least, it has been increasingly obvious that the great British public is not prepared to put its hand deep enough into its collective pocket to fund a vibrant and viable regional press. They prefer to desert it in droves.

    Declining revenues equals a declining industry. It has happened before and it will happen again. Industrial history is littered with many examples.

    The prime mistake our media groups have made is believing that you can replace the revenue of print ads with page clicks. The reality is that they can’t.

    Listicles, popsicles, icicles – whatever you want to call them, are not the problem, they are simply the symptoms of the deeper malaise of ever declining revenues and print circulations.

    There may have been a chance to save the regional press by use of the Internet in the mid-90s, but there was nobody fleet-enough-of-foot nor mind to grab the opportunity before others pulled away the rug..

    After all fat cats with fat bellies prefer not to imagine leaner times ahead. Well, the lean times are here, now – and how. We had better get used to them. I see no evidence of the clouds parting any time soon.

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  • August 3, 2016 at 1:40 pm
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    It’s a buyers market and always has been @sutler
    Once something loses its appeal and value and once something is reduced in quality and relevance you cannot expect people to pay for it, no matter what it is so we shouldn’t be surprised that the Ill thought out knee jerk bandwagon jumping tactics and short term policies of the ones charged with directing the business/ industry have resulted in products ( newspapers and websites) that have lost their way,are no longer valued by readers or local business people as credible news or commercial platforms and are thus suffering now.
    Everything a paper provided can be found instantly on line and for free so unless they are given something unique or of value you cannot expect people to pay fir tired rehashed old news and pointless click bait listicles.

    Much as we all yearn for the good old days of high copy sales and demand outstripping supply they are long gone yet the main players act as if nothing’s changed and it’s merely a temporary blip that online sites and ‘pop up ‘papers can rectify with revenues to cover print losses , that’s not happened nor is it likely to so we are where we are, in an industry managing decline yet with those on the highest salaries in denial and fooling themselves and trying to fool others that riches await while they tread water until it’s time to move On elsewhere

    Bad decisions in the recent past often by those no longer around to carry the can or the yes men who infest the business have brought this industry to its knees, a position which it simply cannot recover from

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  • August 3, 2016 at 1:44 pm
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    I agree with much of Sutler’s gloomy prognosis. But here’s what sticks in the craw: while the slash and burn of the last decade has been horrendous in editorial offices – so hastening the death of what they call ‘the brands’ these days – I’m not so sure life is that tough in those ivory towers.
    Have you noticed how many editorial / commercial/ digital/ regional directors etc and above we all still have – some of them have become great survivors by constantly being busy moving the depleted deckchairs round.
    In reality organisations are far, far smaller, a swathe of products has been shut down and yet… tiers of senior management resolutely cling to the mast, collecting great salaries and bonuses as they preside over fewer people and publications.
    They are very good at implementing ‘economies of scale’ as long as this doesn’t apply to their own hierarchy.
    There will eventually be a tipping point, in print or online, because although it should always be cheaper for a big group to run a stable of websites and print products than a three man/woman band, this is no longer the case.
    When every £ of revenue is divvied up, a larger proportion is going to fund those in the top tiers than it used to – top tiers you don’t have in smaller operations.
    Eventually the current corporate model will be unsustainable because there are so many low quality products – personally I hope this happens sooner rather than later. In the meantime journalism and journalists will continue to suffer.

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  • August 3, 2016 at 1:53 pm
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    Too many eager young editors and over-promoted ad reps are going around the regional press wagging their tails like puppy dogs whenever anyone more senior tells them to do something ridiculous.

    Good on you Gareth for pointing out a couple of unpleasant home truths.

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  • August 3, 2016 at 1:54 pm
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    Harry B. I too was of that combination and anticipated the transition and moved over to the digital dark side where, despite winning numerous awards for editorial excellence in the early days, the website was soon overwhelmed by the ad department trying to “monetise” the new medium.
    My question is, if we are where we are, where was the NUJ, IoJ and even the NCTJ in all this?

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  • August 3, 2016 at 3:23 pm
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    Lots of excellent points here, though Runaway Ed’s one about the non-productive wasters higher up the food chain is the one that gets me fuming. TM is an organisation founded on, and dedicated to, promulgating journalism (or it used to be), yet the first people it jettisons when times get tough are journalists (reporters, subs, photographers). However, the legions of editors in chief (who presumably did something useful once), deputy editors in chief, regional MDs, assistant regional MDs, Executive PAs who do nothing all day etc. etc. ad nauseam remain intact. Why? These people are cost centres, not wealth generators, if only a board of directors with acute vision could see that. Anyway, here’s a question to ask the digital zealots. If you were forced to choose taking a percentage of your salary based on print or online, which would you go for? As a guide to your calculations, TM’s latest six-month revenue announcement shows digital = £39.7m; print = £305.8m. I’m keen to hear any responses.

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  • August 3, 2016 at 4:47 pm
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    No wish to make you fume Dick, but as someone who was once on the corporate gravy train until it made me puke, I’m fascinated by what I like to term ‘invisible downshifting’ in the most senior ranks.
    In effect you are in charge of much less but your ‘downshift’ occurs without losing rank, desk or job title; you can even get a bigger bonus for chopping more from cost centres such as marketing and content. Get rid of ‘stuff’ and you have more time to focus on the smokescreen numbers like unique user website visits.
    So once they oversaw the doings and balance sheets of say 600 journalists (could be ad reps, designers, distributors, take your pick) now down to under 100, and perhaps managed twice as many print and online products.
    But as long as you corporate-speak, develop new (exciting!) ‘projects’ and ‘visions’ to roll out (usually revisits of failed online initiatives under new headings) and ingeniously find something or someone else to cut… well it’s Happy Days.

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  • August 3, 2016 at 5:27 pm
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    In answer to Dick’s question, I’d choose the print salary now, but the digital salary in 10 years’ time.

    My question in return, aimed at all the digital haters, is this – where do you think the future of local journalism lies when print circulation and revenue drop to a level at which it is no longer economically viable to print newspapers?

    The problem with Gareth’s argument, well-intentioned as it is, is that it conflates two issues – cost-cutting driven by falling revenues and attempts to build a new audience online – simply because they’re happening at the same time.

    Criticism of the the loss of good journalists due to cost-cutting seems reasonable, but arguing against the use of live blogs and listicles is nonsensical. Print might make the money now, but it’s on an inevitable downward spiral, and when it finally crashes, it’ll be the titles that built new online audiences that survive. Metrics show that people want to read live blogs and listicles – and just because the presentation might be unfamiliar, doesn’t mean they’re bad journalism. They will help papers to build the kind of audience they need to fund the kind of journalism that Gareth likes – and bring audiences to a place where they might actually read it.

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  • August 3, 2016 at 6:15 pm
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    I am grateful to my learned friends for all the stats regarding TM balance sheets, etc – and I’m truly impressed – but Gareth’s point is about “an industry that is unable to adequately fulfil the role of local journalism”.
    So can we forget for the moment management-speak about ensuring a future for our titles, plucky little start-ups and doomed digital projects and attack the basic threat to democracy.
    This should be the spark that ignites a wider public debate on the danger to regional journalism, press integrity, and local accountability.

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  • August 3, 2016 at 6:48 pm
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    Firstly, kudos to Gareth for speaking out. He’s clearly right; the company spokesperson can only use a blanket denial rather than answer each of his specific points because, er…he’s right.
    Execs have to “believe” the emperor is wearing fine new clothes, right up to the point where they stop working for that company and can admit the truth.
    Newspapers, en masse, signed their own death warrant back in the ’90s when they all decided it was a good idea to put all their content online for free. To be fair, they couldn’t have predicted how that would pan out.
    It’s clear now, though, that what future regional newspapers have is digital. Unfortunately, there’s no way they can make that pay – advertising and subscriptions don’t work. If there was a way of newspapers making money online, somebody would have thought of it by now.
    I do hope that regionals have a future, I read mine everyday online. It’s hard to see how, though – the vast majority of their readers are online and people are increasingly less willing to pay money for a print version that is in essence a compendium of stories that have been on the website over the previous 24 hours.

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  • August 4, 2016 at 7:47 am
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    Zenithar (the Divine of wealth, labour, commerce and communication – great name), thanks for the reply. Your tone and diction seem eerily familiar – that astute use of the verb “conflates”, and a sentence starting “Metrics show”, but I may be wrong. Anyway, a couple of quick points. First, I hope you don’t think I’m a “digital hater” because digital technology and the comms it permits is one of the greatest developments of my – perhaps any – lifetime. Look at this superb debate we’re having now. But I have to agree with midlander when he says digital will never make enough money purveying local news, especially to satisfy the needs of a corporation, a 19th century business model lumbering around dinosaur-like in a wholly 21st century marketplace. Corporations are OK for oil, Coca-Cola, arms, hardware, etc but not news, It’s ironic people like you, who rightly hail the future in many respects, cling to such a prehistoric way of doing business in our endeavour (it’s hardly an “industry”). On the salary front, I have contacted my mortgage company with the news that I will begin paying it again when my “digital salary” starts in 10 years. I am anticipating a forthright response.

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  • August 4, 2016 at 8:59 am
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    gareth is correct,Print revenues in copy sales and advertising terms are on a fast and ceaseless downward spiral that will only continue,as such,decisions need to be made as to the worth and viability of each product/paper in every publishers print portfolio, couple this with regional press web pages which are going largely unnoticed,carry little or no advertising other than the god awful ” sponsored content” click bait tripe and the picture (no suprise) is grim for the future of the regional press in this coluntry and with it the futures of everyone involved in the industry.

    Radical overhauls of the bigger regional press groups needs to happen pdq in order that the deadwood and non revenue producing staff can be cut out ,costs saved with little or no impact onto the business and to give what remains of the healthier parts of the business any chance of survival.To continue pumping out papers that no one buys,web sites that so few look at and are not attracting anywhere near enough sustainable revenue to cover costs is ridiculous.it just needs one CEO or md with enough belief in the longer term future of their business to make these cutbacks,only then will they have a more sound base to move on from.
    Not taking proactive action and addressing the key issues of overstaffing and uneffective sales people and those not contributing to the bottom line whether in terms of revenues or value to the busienss and doing nothing other than reactive axe wielding of editorial and photographic staff is a short term strategy and one which will ultimately hearld the end of the regional press in this country

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  • August 4, 2016 at 9:31 am
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    I have made an unforgivable assumption in my previous post… “But I have to agree with midlander when he says…” That should “he or she”, of course. Look, I’m 307 years old and it was a man’s world for a lot of that time. South side Johnnie’s post is excellent; says it all.

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  • August 4, 2016 at 2:00 pm
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    Thanks Dick. I don’t think I am who you think I am, but I’ll take the compliment.

    While you’re speaking to your mortgage company, I think you should mention that your income is decreasing at a rapid rate. If they ask how you plan to keep up your payments in 10 years’ time, just shrug.

    To address a couple of points:

    I have no particular love for the corporate business model, but I disagree that the web can’t fund local journalism. It’ll never make as much money as the glory days of print, but it should be able to sustain it in some format.

    I often hear the argument about newspapers signing their own death warrant by giving away their product for free, midlander, but I don’t buy it. I can’t imagine any climate in which people would be prepared to pay for general news online (as opposed to specialist subjects), and the cover price of a newspaper has only ever been one revenue stream. The real error newspapers made was allowing digital native businesses to move in and steal their more lucrative earners, such as classified ads.

    And South side Johnnie – regional press web pages are growing all the time. The good ones are, anyway, and they’re certainly not going unnoticed – most have much greater readerships than their print counterparts. In the local press, at least, their main source of income is display advertising, not sponsored content. Maybe that doesn’t make as much money as it should, but that’s as much to do with outdated sales practice as it is about the state of the market. Reform that, and suddenly web journalism starts to look a lot more viable.

    And finally… there’s a danger that by labeling all web-first formats as “clickbait tripe” we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. There’s a big difference between “You’ll NEVER guess what happened when…” and “17 things to do in Uttoxeter this weekend”. If an article informs and interests the reader, it is good. If it simply lures the reader into clicking something disappointing, it’s bad. So when the Croydon Advertiser prints two listicles on opposing pages, have a word with the planners, not the digital strategists.

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