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NUJ chapel 'baffled' at possible MEN redundancies

Union officials at MEN Media have said they are ‘baffled and angry’ about plans to make up to 10 staff redundant after owners Trinity Mirror posted an increase in profits.

The group’s half-yearly financial report was released last week showing profits at the regional division were up 67pc, while they were up 25pc at the group as a whole.

And the report revealed former GMG Regional Media papers which were bought by Trinity Mirror in March, including MEN titles, contributed to the profits by £2.7m.

But a planned restructuring at the Manchester Evening News to merge its editorial staff into a single team could lead to up to 10 redundancies.

Local chapel officers for the National Union of Journalists have released a statement saying the hike in profits caused despair for staff worried about redundancies.

It said: “The statement showing encouraging interim results from Trinity Mirror and including an acknowledgement of the great financial contribution already being made by the recently-acquired MEN Media, leaves us even more baffled and angry that we are currently in the process of shedding up to 10 more journalists’ jobs on top of the 78 axed last year.

“Over the past few years, journalists at the Manchester Evening News and weekly newspapers have seen that when business is good, management cuts our jobs, when business is bad, management cuts our jobs and when business is improving, management cuts our jobs. Different management, same philosophy.”

Under the MEN Media proposals, staff at the Manchester Evening News and its 22 sister weeklies would be combined, with teams of reporters covering specific geographical areas, creating content for all titles and platforms.

Up to 10 jobs could go in the restructuring plans but a number of new roles are also set to be created.


Angry (02/08/2010 09:26:54)
Same union, same ineffectiveness.

Lensman (02/08/2010 09:52:10)
Re Angry’s comment: Unfortunately a union is only as effective as its members and it seems that most journalists are unwilling or afraid to take action. Not surprising given the poor wages they are on, it takes a leap of faith to go on strike, but ultimately that’s what it takes to have any hope of changing management’s attitudes. We need a return to the good (or bad) old days of the ‘closed shop’.

Metman (02/08/2010 10:28:38)
What would strike action achieve exactly? With plenty of media graduates and ‘citizen’ journalists out there the paper could quite easily replace its staff.
Gone are the days of the print unions and fourth estate.
Any one with a pc at home can create a local paper or blog.
Many old jurnos (probably employed over 20 years ago) are clining to this idea of journalism as some sort of profession, afraid not guys.
Also please don’t bleet about the skills of a reporter, shorthand and a knowledge of McNae’s is hardly rocket science.
You only have to look at how younger employees are paid and lack of pension provision to see exactly what value the industry puts on the average local reporter.
Unless you’re headstrong enough to want to work on a national then you’d be better off doing something else as a living. If you enjoy your job then see it as a vocation and get used to the wages/conditions, otherwise get out.

Ronshirt (02/08/2010 11:24:05)
Re Metman: “Also please don’t bleet about the skills of a reporter” – wot, like speling you meen?

hilary (02/08/2010 12:07:46)
Who said anything about going on strike? This is a message of despair – no-one’s going to take any action, despite the fact that all the proud local newspapers are about to be reduced to the level of free admags. In my day, the MEN was never a hotbed of union activity because they were paid silly – ie, good – wages and got lots of lovely holiday entitlement. Subs and reporters round about were queueing to get a job there. Funny how that keeps the staff on side, isn’t it? Perhaps that idiot Bailey should start paying her staff properly and herself a little less…

Lensman (02/08/2010 12:55:28)
Have to agree with Metman – best way out is to start your own paper.Management are only interested in the balance sheet at the end of the day. Hilary is right the MEN was a cracking paper – 20 odd years go- but how are you going to change the situation without taking action.Too many journalists have been content to sit back and let management have it all their own way.

John T (02/08/2010 14:14:34)
Clearly Metman you have never worked in a newsroom.
Nowadays most reporters entering the industry have a degree, an NCTJ qualification, and have given plenty of their time for free. We do it because competition is fierce and jobs are at a premium. But while competition for roles is virtually unavoidable, the low pay and overly long hours shouldn’t be. Companies like Trinity Mirror are driving the quality of papers into the ground in order to maximise their profit margins, not realising that you can’t run papers like sweatshops – money does need to be reinvested.
It’s all part of the private business culture which sees the workers in a company as expendable and unimportant, and the managers as “stars” who need to be attracted by vast pay deals. Of course, when they do a Fred Goodwin they still walk away with a golden handshake. It shouldn’t be that way and it isn’t right, even if it does seem virtually inevitable. But nowadays the unions aren’t strong enough to make a difference, which is a shame because they’re the last walls of resistance between eroding working conditions.

Metman (02/08/2010 15:48:41)
John T – Sorry, but yes I have worked in plenty of newsrooms, and on the nationals. Something that, more than likely, you’ve never done. Ooh London, ooh big city I hear you say.
I’ve also got all the qualifications you’ve gone on about, too. In fact you’ve made my point for me. Those qualifications just don’t amount to decent wages.
Ronshirt: Nothing to add to the debate apart from pointing out a typo? Truth hurts? Spelling is hardly the reserve of a reporter is it? I’ve seen enough illiterate hacks to know that.

Chris Youett, Esq, (02/08/2010 16:02:00)
Before ANGRY or anyone else makes silly remarks about the NUJ, why don’t they say what they would do – or is this because the critics aren’t journalists? Regarding the suggestion of opting for community papers produced on PCs, they don’t make even the peanuts the employers currently pay us. Regarding the suggestion about loads of candidates for journalists’ jobs. Yes, there are. However, most of them are just wannabes who think they can get onto Fleet Street, BBC or ITV with two or three bylined stories under their belts. These very quickly get found out on real newsdesks.

Lensman (02/08/2010 16:36:43)
Trouble is Chris there soon won’t be any ‘real’ newsdesks left.As for the NUJ I’m afraid my monthly subs can be better spent- on food,’leccy and gas. I did a long stint as FoC for the union but it was an uphill struggle getting enough colleagues to join to get our voices heard.Perhaps I should’ve saved up those subs!

Metman (02/08/2010 16:45:55)
What would I do with the NUJ? Scrap it and save everyone their £12.
Again, the point I’m making is that journalism – at least at the local level – simply isn’t valued as it once was.
The fact is young cub reporters can make it on a national if they have enough drive and talent and that doesn’t involve years and years on some pokey provisional. That’s just a myth put out by those who simply didn’t make it or decided they didn’t want that lifestyle or family commitments dictated otherwise.
But unless you’re prepared to move to London or do shifts and the hours that entails then forget it.
I’m not suggesting that amateur papers are they way forward, but just that some of the skill sets that put people employed in the print industry apart years ago are now redundant or easily acquired.
At the end o
f the day the industry missed a trick with the emergence of the web and is still backwards looking now.
Papers were in a prime position to take advantage of new technology to sell advertising but instead of embracing it others got there first. Classified revenue has dried up – why? Because print moved too slowly to invest. Why pick up a paper to look for a house when you can search a website and put in exactly what you’re looking for. Papers had all the contacts and wasted the opportunity and now everyone in the industry is paying for it.

Subb Yer Own Werk (02/08/2010 17:10:29)
There’s always one that misses the point – this time it’s Metman. Entertaining points taken in the comedy spirit they were presumably intended.

Subb Yer Own Werk (02/08/2010 17:10:29)
There’s always one that misses the point – this time it’s Metman. Entertaining points taken in the comedy spirit they were presumably intended.

Chris Youett, Esq, (03/08/2010 16:07:26)
Although you are a real journalist, Lensman, I must beg to differ. The sooner that our employers stop giving away online services and start charging a realistic monthly subscription the quicker the fortunes of the industry will be turned round. Interestingly many leading business and trade titles still have fully-staffed newsdesks. This is why they regularly outscoop the Sundays.