Today the union issued what it is calling a ‘dossier of evidence’ showing staff cutbacks have led to journalists taking on more work, and court cases and council meetings being missed.
The move appears designed to heap pressure on Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey who is already facing a potential ‘shareholders revolt’ over her pay package, which has seen her earn more than £12.5m since 2003.
The union claim it is ‘untenable’ for Ms Bailey to remain in her role and claims Trinity’s journalists are now “spending most of their time uploading websites rather than finding and writing up stories. ”
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said the dossier showed that local newspapers were having the lifeblood sucked from them and were unable to fulfil their role as a public watchdog.
One union representative from the Birmingham Post & Mail said: “Staff are increasingly going for easy stories – those which can be filed and concluded as quickly and with as little fuss as possible, from press releases and announcements with a quick reaction from the end of the phone.
“Some good, but not explosive stories are missed because we do not have production staff able to make late changes to the paper.
“We no longer routinely cover the transport authority. All this means that community or grassroots news has suffered and we are becoming increasingly reliant on reader generated news and pictures.”
A Media Wales rep said a series of redundancy announcements last summer had had a serious impact on the Celtic Weekly titles which circulate in the South Wales Valleys.
“The papers now have little more than one dedicated reporter each with much of the content given over to a cross-Valleys news section culled from the Echo, a common sports section and the dreaded ‘user generated content’,'” said the rep.
Another representative from the North West said that job cuts meant reporters having to work longer hours spending less time on each story to produce more copy.
However, on the upside the rep said the opening of satellite offices has allowed reporters to spend longer on their patch
Martin Shipton, NUJ Trinity Mirror group chapel chair said: “By wilfully damaging the quality of its own papers, the board is destroying its chance to create a sustainable business for the future.”
Trinity Mirror did not wish to comment when contacted by HTFP.