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Compulsory redundancies 'unavoidable' at MEN Media

Compulsory redundancies will be “unavoidable” at MEN Media in a large-scale shake-up affecting its daily and weekly titles.

It emerged today that the company is looking to shed 150 jobs, 78 in editorial, at its flagship daily the Manchester Evening News and its 22 weekly titles based in Greater Manchester.

In an official statement, the company says that it has examined every option but admits it must “substantially” reduce staffing numbers and anticipates compulsory job losses.

It said: “While we will seek volunteers for redundancy wherever possible, we anticipate that compulsory redundancies will be unavoidable. Those people affected will be offered significantly enhanced severance terms.

“The viability of local and regional titles is under threat due to steeply falling revenues that we do not expect to return to previous levels even when economic conditions improve.

“The major changes announced at MEN Media today are designed to protect the business and its journalism for the future through a new model with significantly lower fixed costs.”

The proposed changes announced today include:

  • One consolidated editorial team for the MEN and weeklies at the head office in Manchester city centre, working across MEN Media’s various titles and websites.
  • All district offices apart from Stockport will be closed in the coming months: Accrington, Ashton, Macclesfield, Oldham, Rochdale, Rossendale, Salford and Wilmslow.
  • Reporters will continue to work their patches, but no longer from a local office. There will be increased remote working to support this.
  • Investment in a new editorial system common to all titles and training for all users.
  • New layout and design for weekly titles including a common central section drawn from the MEN’s leisure/entertainment content.
  • Greater content sharing between the MEN and weekly titles.
  • A revised pay schedule for journalists based on the current weeklies pay schedule.
  • Fewer free copies of the MEN and weekly titles distributed and reduced pagination of the MEN.
  • Revamped advertising sales operation and better targeted advertising sales strategies.
  • Mark Dodson, chief executive of MEN Media’s parent company GMG Regional Media, said: “MEN Media’s role is to produce great journalism for our readers, users and viewers in Greater Manchester.

    “If we want to continue to be able to do this, we need to find a new, sustainable, lower-cost business model to support it.

    “The economic viability of local and regional newspapers is under very real and imminent threat.

    “The decision about job losses has been a very difficult one to make and I deeply regret that it has been necessary. Nonetheless, I do believe this is the right decision for MEN Media’s future and for the majority of staff who will remain with the company.

    “There is a successful future for local and regional journalism in the commercial sector, but we need to protect our businesses now to give ourselves the best chance of reaching it.”


    Dandepan (11/03/2009 09:33:21)
    Dodson’s changed his tune it’s not so long ago that he was telling journalists that they were working in an advertising industry, always had been, and should get used to it.
    In four years he has steered GMG from record profits to a shell while picking up big personal bonuses. Time for him and his chauffeur to fall on their swords.

    Alan Salter (11/03/2009 10:10:26)
    We can all point the finger but let’s be sensible. I never agreed with Dodson’s way but he can take credit for spotting the writing on the wall before most other managements. It is just sad for the industry that one of Britain’s best newspapers has come to this.