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Nine newspapers to close as 94 jobs go

Nine newspapers are to close and two more are to merge as part of a fresh series of cutbacks announced today by regional publisher Trinity Mirror.

The plans, which were announced to staff this afternoon, will mean the loss of 17 journalists’ jobs and 94 across all departments.

The titles facing closure are the Lichfield Post, Tamworth Times, Burton Trader, Walsall Observer, Bedworth Echo, Rugby Times, Loughborough Trader Xtra, Ashby Trader & Echo and Coalville Echo.

And two editors jobs are at risk of redundancy as a result of a proposal to merge the Solihull News and Solihull Times and place these and the Sutton Coldfield News under a single editor.

According to an internal staff memo, seen by HTFP, the two titles will in future be run by a combined editorial content-gathering team, based at Trinity Mirror Midlands’ main headquarters in Fort Dunlop, Birmingham.

The combined team will not include any traditional, single-skilled photographers, which the company has told staff “can no longer be commercially justified.”

In a further development, Trinity Mirror Weeklies editorial director Tony Lennox is to take early retirement as part of the cutbacks.

He will depart at the end of the month, following the conclusion of a 30-day period of consultation with all affected staff.

Georgina Harvey, managing director Trinity Mirror Regionals, said: “We, in common with all UK publishing companies, are facing some real challenges. As a consequence this will involve difficult decisions but necessary ones to secure our long-term future.

“These actions announced today are designed to protect our Midlands businesses and the majority of their employees. We are seeking volunteers from within affected groups in order to minimise any necessity for compulsory redundancies.

“In addition, we are offering the opportunity for staff in other parts of our Midlands businesses not affected by these proposals to volunteer for redundancy.”

The National Union of Journalists, which claimed last week that a major job cuts announcement by Trinity was in the offing, has condemned the plans.

General secretary Jeremy Dear said: “For the last week Trinity Mirror managers refused to talk to staff about the changes they were planning. After accusing us of scaremongering they’ve now announced proposals that are even worse than anyone feared.”

The union has already announced it is balloting for industrial action over the plans.

The NUJ had also claimed that TM plans to turn the Birmingham Post into a weekly, but today’s announcement makes no mention of any such proposal.


Dreading the future (01/07/2009 18:31:04)
This story curdles my blood, and not just because of the job losses, which are sickening. George Orwell (remember Newspeak in 1984) would have had a field day with “the two titles will in future be run by a combined editorial content-gathering team”. For heaven’s sake! You make them sound like farm labourers at harvest time. And it’s a total delight to discover that proper professional photographers are no longer wanted in the Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) of 21st century journalism. Much better to send out a junior “news-gatherer” with a notebook (or should it be a recorder now) in one hand, a digi camera on the other to collect second-rate happy snaps and a video-recorder strapped to his/her head. I’m glad I’m out of it. The end of local journalism – interesting and informative reports written by well-trained and supervised reporters in their own patch -is nigh. Apologies, it’s here already.

LP (02/07/2009 09:38:54)
“The combined team will not include any traditional, single-skilled photographers, which the company has told staff “can no longer be commercially justified.”
Does this apply to TM’s dailies as well?

Craig Winyard (02/07/2009 10:24:32)
I am absolutely appalled to hear about these disgraceful cuts.
I worked for Trinity Mirror as a reporter for around seven years and spent most of this time working as a reporter on the historic Walsall Observer title.
I am incredibly proud to have worked on this newspaper and also on the Wolverhampton AdNews which was recently axed.
I still have a lot of friends at Trinity Mirror and my thoughts are with them.
Quality journalism will be a thing of the past. Enter the copy-cut-and-past era.

cheesed off (02/07/2009 10:24:50)
How can closing nine newspapers ‘secure the long term future’? This is just designed to have a maximum impact on the end of year balance sheet – to secure bonuses, pensions etc for the execs in London. There is no long term strategy at Trinity Mirror. They haven’t a clue.

Craig Winyard (02/07/2009 10:31:44)
I am absolutely appalled to hear about these disgraceful cuts.
I worked for Trinity Mirror for almost seven years as a reporter and during that wonderful time worked on the Walsall Observer and Woverhampton AdNews (no closed) titles.
I still have many friends at Trinity Mirror and my thoughts are with them at this upsetting time.
Quality journalisnm will be a thing of the past. Enter the copy-cut-and-paste era.
These are sad times indeed.

Hacker (02/07/2009 10:40:42)
The company when it made big profits gave it all straight to shareholders and still cut back. We have a serious economic downturn which is inevitably temporary and will pick up again. In a panic they shut titles – and when the advertising goes back up again they won’t exist. Nice business plan Geogina Harvey. Short termism in the worst sense. Cut in the present fail in the future. Make a loss now to make a profit in years to come.

Hot Metal (02/07/2009 11:04:52)
This is what happens when accountants run newspapers rather than journalists

Poppa (02/07/2009 11:27:03)
To be fair if the papers had been run by journalists they would have gone some years ago.

lensgirl (02/07/2009 11:30:58)
Its no different in other companies.
On many papers if reporters don’t take pictures of events (some of them major attractions) they don’t get covered. Management don’t care either and they will use any old rubbish pix rather than pay a good freelance.
And papers are always on the beg asking schools etc to send their own (crappy) pictures which are allowed in the paper, reducing quality.
Someone tell me, is there a boss out there who REALLY cares about quality rather than just spouting company-speak to cover their back?
By the look of many local papers- crap pictures, mistakes, dull writing,full of council handouts and easy court copy, – they are a dying species.
Some great photographers I know have got out and are doing PR. It really is the readers loss.

Duncan Danley (02/07/2009 12:11:05)
Are we saying that these Midland towns no longer warrant newspapers, either mainstream or alternative?
In the case of readers of Tamworth and Lichfield newspapers, their soul has moved to Stoke while Burton, like Nuneaton, now basically rely on Iliffe’s next day news service. New Newspaper Society president David Fordham’s ‘grassroots news’ call already seems a hollow rallying cry too late.
Hard news in local newspapers died some years ago – soon we will achieve that paperless office and paperless home as well. I’m with Dreading The Future – out in that Orwellian field – watching modern publishers grunt their last and local newspapers swilling around in the pig slurry of history.

Hackette (02/07/2009 12:27:30)
I can’t believe what I’m reading (no pun intended)… well actually I can. Feel so sorry for those affected – not just those facing the axe but those who will inevitably be left behind to pick up the pieces.
Clearly quality journalism has no value up in the board room.
Next thing you know the Post will be weekly and the Mail will be printed overnight… 😉

CG (02/07/2009 13:33:18)
It’s not just the way they’ve done
it – it’s the people they’re getting rid of which beggars belief.
Darren Parkin, editor of the Cov weeklies, is one of the brightest talents we’ve got and yet he’s for the chop?
Something’s clearly gone on behind the scenes and Parkin must have given both barrels to some faceless wonder for this to happen. It’s turned into a witchhunt.
Remember what happened to Steve Brown recently. Rumour was he stood up to the management and look what happened to him. Same thing’s happened to Parkin by the look of it.

Hot Metal (02/07/2009 14:00:57)
Not sure what Poppa means there. I seem to remember editors and journalists writing stories that sold newspapers rather than number crunchers calling the shots

CG (02/07/2009 14:27:52)
KeLVI – sounds like a tale to tell there.
And no, I am not he. Wrong gender.

Observer (02/07/2009 14:59:25)
The 17 journalists on nine newspapers? My god, how did that many last this long?

Craig Winyard (02/07/2009 15:11:27)
Some years back I was told I was a good old fashioned reporter because I liked getting out on the patch.
I replied no I am a reporter just trying to do the job properly.
With many weekly titles reduced to one reporter and with increased centralisation patch reporting is now a near impossibility due to logistics and resources.
Although I am no longer a reporter it is clear newspapers, because of the plummeting staff sizes, are becoming increasingly reliant on press releases and handouts.
These cuts will see the demise of much loved titles and the loss of some tremendous staff.
I fear for those thinking of joining an NCTJ course in the hope of becoming a reporter. There are no jobs out there and I fear we have not seen the end of newspaper closures.

JB (02/07/2009 15:31:06)
So, traditional single skilled photographers can no longer be justified. Newspapers will just become low quality comics, mobile phone and readers pictures will fill the holes regardless of their content. Its a sad, sad ,sad day for image quality and content that we once took for granted.
These people in their ivory towers will only be happy when all printed media is dead, but hey, we all know they are wrong and we need to look for people with imagination (and money of course) who can start up new newspapers and show that TM are just a bunch of lemmings following over the precipice to be consumed and spat out by the W.W.W

RB (02/07/2009 15:32:24)
As part of the Trinity Mirror company, I have to say, even though there was much speculation by the NUJ, the redundencies still came as a shock as I have lost a number of collegues. It’s a shame that some of these papers had to be cut and a number of journalists have lost their jobs, along with advertising and marketing staff. I used to look into the future with the Trinity Mirror company, hoping one day to become a journalist but with the way things are and the comment made by Craig Winyard about NCTJ courses, I think my future at Trinity Mirror looks somewhat bleak.

Pseudo-outrage (02/07/2009 16:25:44)
Sorry about the latest round of cuts of course, but amused by the contribution from “Duncan Danley.” One of very many pseudonyms used by a “colourful” West Midlands journalist over the years to make it looke like he had a large staff when the paper he was editing was run on a shoestring. The irony!

J (02/07/2009 16:29:04)
I hope the amount of NCTJ courses in the future matches the amount of jobs there are in the regional press. Or at least for the NCTJ to be honest and say, “Go on this course and you may, just might, end up writing press releases for some boring government department – that’s if you’re luck, though.” Because at the moment, I am feeling a bit robbed. Three and a half grand lighter, exhausted, dreams crushed, poor, and about as much chance of getting a job on a regional paper as my dad, who’s in his 70s, playing for Chelsea. Dark days.

Jim (02/07/2009 16:55:48)
Why is it that Journalists tend to take redundancy so personally? I too was recently made redundant by my Newspaper employer and I accept that YES IT IS ABOUT MAKING MONEY! Its called business and without it no one would have a job. I accept that many of these decisions are short-termist and probably won’t pan out to be good ones but comments like “Hot Metal”s really annoy me! Newspapers are businesses like any other and if they aren’t making money then of course there will be job cuts! I know this from my own experience!

disenchanted (06/07/2009 13:09:36)
Somebody recently asked me for some advice for their teenage daughter on how to get into journalism. I advised them not to bother. Local news is a dying trade. I am only three years out of uni and fear that my reporting career is dead already. Things will pick up in advertising eventually, but these changes and cutbacks are irreversable.

Arfurfaxsake (06/07/2009 23:55:12)
The Birmingham Post is well known for the quality of its photography; the snappers having won many awards over the years-I somehow don’t think that’s going to happen again-but then it’s unlikely the papers will survive anyway if TMS continues to treat the readers with such contempt expecting them to buy cheaply produced crap

Hot Metal (07/07/2009 09:36:50)
Hello Jim. Yes, I appreciate newspapers have to make money, but in case you hadn’t noticed, the ones that do and are successful are also the ones who have a strong base of journalists looking for exclusive stories. If you take away the lifeblood of a newspaper just to save money – i.e. sourcing stories so that people will buy the product – then people won’t buy the product. Catch 22 I think.