Around 82 jobs – 40 of them editorial roles – are under threat of redundancy as a result of the changes, which the company says it hopes to secure through voluntary means.
In addition, both Post editor Marc Reeves and Steve Dyson, editor of the Mail and sister weekly the Sunday Mercury, have decided to leave their posts, with Dave Brookes, editor of sister daily the Coventry Telegraph taking over as editor-in-chief of the three Birmingham titles.
The official announcement today from Trinity Mirror brings to an end weeks of debate and speculation about the titles since the company launched a consultation with staff, unions and advertisers at the end of August.
A statement from Trinity Mirror said the Birmingham Post would be “developed as a multimedia brand with a comprehensive 100-page minimum weekly print title”.
It will offer in-depth coverage of business news with analysis while birminghampost.net will continue its daily breaking news and comment service.
Although publication of the daily print product will cease, outgoing editor Marc Reeves revealed on his blog that a daily digital version of the Post will be emailed to subscribers each morning.
Marc said that readers would be able to scan the contents on their screeens or phones – or even print it off and read it in the “old-fashioned” way if preferred.
In this afternoon’s statement, Trinity said the Birmingham Mail will move to overnight production early in 2010.
The company is also proposing to streamline its editorial operations by introducing a new, two-step process, centred on what it calls ‘smart templating’ of pages.
This involves reporters writing into pre-determined story shapes and is intended to speed up the production of news pages, meaning the majority of production roles on the Post and Mail, Sunday Mercury and Coventry Telegraph are at risk of redundancy.
There will also be a reduction in the number of photographers in the Midlands and a small reduction of staff on Trinity Mirror’s Midlands weekly titles.
The changes also place under threat 42 roles in transport, distribution and newspaper sales departments – they have come about due to a forecast £6m loss facing the Trinity Mirror Midlands division.
Managing director of BPM Media John Griffith said: “In reaching the decisions we are announcing today, we have taken great care to consider all the options and we have sought the views of our staff, advertisers and key contacts.
“We believe the changes we plan to introduce offer the best way forward for the business, to help us tackle the immediate issue of the forecast deficit and to set us up more effectively for the longer term.”
Ex Merc writer (20/10/2009 16:34:05)
The death of journalism in Birmingham.
Mr_Osato (20/10/2009 17:28:37)
‘Streamlined production?’ – it’s easy to be streamlined if you don’t mind the end result being garbage. Why not go the whole hog and just cut and paste the press release straight into the template? Oh – you’re saving that one until next year.
Hengist Pod (21/10/2009 16:04:31)
Before too long I expect there will be a fully automated system that will convert press releases and submitted into a newspaper with little if any need for any human imput whatsoever. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a prorotype already and that Trinity Mirror are trialing it behind closed doors – bunch of jokers that they are!
Rupert Bear (21/10/2009 16:13:23)
The demise of the Birmingham Post as a daily is extremely sad. I am not qualified to comment on the allegations that poor management is to blame, and I am not convinced either that the growth of alternative media is the major culprit.
In truth the whole regional morning paper sector has become more or less an anachronism. In the 1970s and 1980s, when I had the chance to see papers like the Birmingham Post and the Western Mail on a regular basis, they were serious, influential newspapers aimed at the professional and business communities in the regions they served. The content was intelligent, with the literary criticism of writers like Keith Brace in Birmingham the equal of anything to be found in the national broadsheets. The Western Mail’s political writing was high class.
Because of declining circulations as society as a whole began to change, these newspapers, and others around the country, set out to woo a wider audience, In so doing they lost their distinctive flavour and alienated much of their core readership. The result was that they ended up with nothing to say that was not being said elsewhere.
Essentially, the society the Post served and reflected now barely exists, at least not in the form of 20/30 years ago.
Paradoxically, despite the numbers of people experiencing a university education soaring, society is now more banal than ever. The numbers of educated people who claim to be addicted to TV dross such as Big Brother and Britain’s Got Talent seems to prove the point.
Even the staid old Daily Telegraph often seems obsessed with the current celebrity culture.
hacker (04/11/2009 13:40:35)
‘smart templating’? That’s as much a misnomer as ‘friendly fire’
But it is obviously where print journalism is headed. I am so glad I got out.