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Regional journalists fighting cuts go national

Manchester Evening News journalists fighting job losses at the title have today taken their campaign to the pages of their parent company’s national newspaper, The Guardian.

Managers at Guardian Media Group want to axe 39 editorial posts at the MEN and another 39 at its sister weeklies in the region, together with a further 35 at its Surrey and Berkshire papers, including the Reading Evening Post.

The National Union of Journalists chapel at the MEN has taken out a full-page ad in today’s Guardian urging readers to join the fight against the cutbacks.

It points out that the profits made by the MEN and other local titles have helped The Guardian stay afloat.

The ad reads: “The Manchester Evening News is Britain’s biggest regional newspaper. It uncovers and reports the news with no agenda other than to serve the public interest. Our weekly papers do the same.

“Throughout our proud history, these papers always made a profit, providing tens of millions of pounds a year to enable our loss-making sister paper, The Guardian, to survive and flourish.”

The ad also criticises the role of the Scott Trust, the body set up in the name of former Manchester Guardian editor CP Scott that ultimately controls GMG.

“In rubber-stamping these cuts, the Trust has approved the decimation of a great regional newspaper in the city which was the birthplace of The Guardian,” it states.

GMG chief executive Carolyn McCall responded in an email to staff by denying that the regional cuts were designed to “service the ongoing expansion of the Guardian”.

“They are designed to protect the regional business, its titles and the employment of the majority of its staff by bringing the company towards break-even,” she added.

As part of the cutbacks, the editorial offices of all MEN Media’s weekly newspapers are being closed, with production relocated to the operation’s headquarters in Manchester. The division is cutting 150 jobs in total.

The MEN chapel is balloting for industrial action on the plans.


mike davies (31/03/2009 10:37:03)
wish everyone on the paper well in the fight to maintain some sort of credibility and integrity in the beleagured regional newspapers.

R Jones (31/03/2009 10:46:58)
Is the NUJ doing anything regarding the provision of facilities for journalists who lose their jobs to retain for other careers, as a back-up/fall back to this campaign? Is the union entering into any form of dialogue with management to do so?

regionalhack (31/03/2009 11:21:22)
Why can’t the GMG regional papers also come under the Scott Trust? Just as the Guardian doesn’t seek to make a profit, as such, then surely the regional press would benefit from similar Trust status, without having to feed the ravenous profit demands of publishers and shareholders.

Hacked off (31/03/2009 11:29:46)
Would someone please ask Carolyn McCall what the anticipated loss would be for GMG if Channel M was taken out of the equation? Also why are they continuing with this money draining TV station.

Golam Murtaza (01/04/2009 08:37:22)
Best of luck guys. (from a local reporter)

404error (01/04/2009 15:35:06)
Channel M is a complete red herring. It’s about the only part of the business that is going in the right direction, financially, and has been awarded a Freeview licence. To criticise _investment_ like this is surely wrong.
I’d be surprised if Channel M were losing more than a couple of million quid a year – the Guardian must be losing at least 20 times that amount. Surely it’s that disparity that’s the issue here?

paul evans (01/04/2009 22:39:26)
Channel M lost £5million last year and £4million the year before. That’s about £100,000 per week. £11m plus has been pumped in since its inception. All this while they have closed some local offices. Channel M is going in the right direction – to killing off MEN Media!!

404error (02/04/2009 12:10:45)
I’m not talking about the financial year 2007-08. I’m talking about now. Channel M will make a reduced loss this year and will be the one part of the regional business moving in the right direction. That is before you take into account that it autumn it is due to start broadcasting on Freeview, greatly increasing its potential audience.
Taking into account Channel M’s losses, the Guardian’s regional operation made a healthy profit of £14m last year. A couple of years ago that was £30m. Even then, the MEN was losing jobs. Why? Because the regional operation’s profits have only ever been a means to service the Guardian’s losses. It has never been allowed to use the money it has made, year after year, to safeguard jobs or strengthen its journalism. On the contrary, it has been bled dry. So I for one am not going to criticise the regional arm investing in TV (while maintaining extremely healthy overall profits) as an attempt at future-proofing itself, when newspapers are in circulation freefall and the internet will never generate any money. The writing has always been on the wall, and now, with the MEN/Channel M set to make another profit this year, it has been told to cut nearly half its editorial staff. Don’t kid yourself: if Channel M did not exist, the money saved would simply have flowed back to London.
To blame Channel M is to accept a bogus premise: that the Guardian should be allowed to rack up ever-increasing losses because it is so very important to democracy, while the MEN (and Channel M, and the other regional papers) should be treated like a Taiwanese sweatshop – a means of generating profit, nothing more and nothing less, and utterly disposible should they fail.