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Welsh backlash over plans for generic features

Regional publisher Trinity Mirror is facing a backlash in Wales over its plans for more shared content across its UK regional titles.

As reported yesterday, the company is axeing 92 jobs across its regional newspapers at the same time as creating 52 new roles, 26 of which will be on its national newspapers.

The cuts are being introduced as part of a plan to share more content across regional and national titles, including the creation of a new unit in Liverpool which will provide generic features material.

But the move has caused particular controversy at the group’s Media Wales division, with critics warning that some standardised British content will be inappropriate for the principality.

Media Wales, which publishes the Western Mail and South Wales Echo along with a series of weeklies, is expected to see around 16 editorial job losses as a result of the changes.

National Union of Journalists father-of-chapel Martin Shipton said: “We are gravely concerned about the implications for our titles.

“One of the proposals is to close down our features department and create a unit based in Liverpool to produce generic features content across Trinity Mirror Regionals. This will result in a loss of Welsh content in our paper and its replacement by standardised British material.

“Trinity Mirror has been making editorial job cuts for the last 10 years, with ever more disastrous consequences for its newspapers. There are many unanswered questions about the workability of these proposals and we expect swift answers.”

The main Welsh opposition party Plaid Cymru has accused the publisher of subjecting its newspapers there to “death by a thousand cuts.”

Media spokesperson Alun Ffred Jones said: “This is the latest in a long line of job cuts for the regional newspaper industry in Wales. It seems that the Western Mail, South Wales Echo and Daily Post are the latest to be affected.

“Stripping out local features content in favour of generic UK-wide content will undoubtedly affect the appeal of the newspaper to Welsh readers.

“This threatens to accelerate the decline in the popularity of Welsh newspapers as their local identity is weakened.

“For example, if a health feature is going to be written in England, will it take into account the fact that responsibility for the NHS has been devolved to Wales?

“It makes no sense at all except perhaps to the bean counters of these huge media companies who have no understanding or interest in protecting the local newspaper industry. ”

Trinity Mirror has not so far specifically responded to the points raised by Plaid Cymru and the union.

In a statement yesterday, the company said its new publishing model would lead to “integrated approach to creating and sharing first-class content across the group.”


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  • January 30, 2013 at 10:31 am

    So TM will be ‘creating and sharing first-class content across the group’?

    How will the company do this when the content is being produced by people who are not trained as journalists or busybodies who think they can write?

    The whole problem for years has been the content has been second and third class, churned out by journalists who haven’t had the time or support to produce the sort of local stories that people actually want to read, either in print or online.

    Obviously, putting lower-paid and untrained ‘curators’ in post will solve this problem. I think not.

    TM’s regionals will now become just ‘lite’ versions of the nationals, with a bit of local ‘news’ tagged on. They could dominate the market in Wales if they actually put some effort into it.

    Let’s face it – UGC will soon stand for ‘useless ghastly cr*p’.

    Get out, get out now. Let the geeks give us the news.

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  • January 30, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    The essence of a good newspaper is that it is produced by many different people. It shouldn’t be like making a tin of beans or a mass market car, it is an individual thing. That’s obvious to most journalists, but not to newspaper executives. There’s no economy of scale in the world of ideas.

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