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Reeves ‘can turn Trinity Mirror division around’

Former regional editor Steve Dyson has backed his old Trinity Mirror colleague Marc Reeves to “turn its Midlands division around” after his surprise return to the company.

Marc, who quit as editor of the Birmingham Post after it went weekly in 2009, was yesterday named as the new publishing director of Trinity Mirror Midlands, with the editors of the Post, Birmingham Mail and Coventry Telegraph all reporting to him.

Steve, who resigned as editor of the Mail at the same time as Marc originally left the Post, said Trinity Mirror had done the right thing in bringing him back.

In a blog post for The Guardian, he said Marc had the “modern vision and technical knowlegde to make the region’s journalism shine again.”

Wrote Steve:  “Eyebrows in the regional newspaper industry would have been raised at Tuesday’s appointment of Reeves as Trinity Mirror Midlands’ new publishing director.   But anyone who knows Reeves personally will not be surprised that Trinity Mirror’s new hierarchy wanted him back – or that he’s been attracted to return to the fold.

“Reeves left when the company was flailing in the depths of recession, sacking journalists left, right and centre with what many observers felt was no clear strategy.

“I know this lack of vision irritated Reeves, especially when he was urging the company to invest properly in the Birmingham Post brand online. He was even prepared to take the paper from daily to weekly publication in print – but only with the thought it could remain “daily” in an online rebirth.

“Unfortunately, Trinity Mirror was more interested in cutting costs and had no stomach for real digital investment.

“Reeves’s experience since then has shown glimpses of what could have been achieved: he helped launch the West Midlands version of the award-winning online business news website TheBusinessDesk, ran a public affairs agency and published The Chamberlain Files, a thinking man’s view of Birmingham business and politics.

“None of these ventures had the capital to make millions, but they showed Trinity Mirror’s new management that their predecessors had perhaps been too hasty in jettisoning Reeves.

“Reeves’s tasks are immense: big chunks of print readers have been lost; the division is, at best, marginally profitable; and morale among many of its journalists remains low.

“But if anyone has the modern vision and technical knowledge to make the region’s journalism shine again, it’s Reeves; hats off to Trinity Mirror for belatedly recognising that.

Marc will start his new role later this month and will have responsibility for all publishing activity across the Midlands as well as management of the region on a day-to-day basis.

He said on Tuesday:  “There are few roles that would have tempted me away from RJF – but the opportunity to develop Trinity’s Mirror’s regional titles, to build on the digital strategy and secure even stronger stakeholder relationships was too much to resist.”