The UK’s leading regional publisher has run into a “war of words” over its latest proposals to roll-out a ‘digital first’ newsroom across the country.
Trinity Mirror Midlands has announced it is planning to introduce Newsroom 3.1 – the new editorial structure supporting the aim of being able to publish all content online first and then reverse-publish the newspaper titles – by the end of next month.
But the move – following successful integration in centres at Newcastle and Cardiff – has led to claims by the National Union of Journalists that this regional version “does not come with the same level of investment in journalism” as the others.
The company is adamant that although seven existing roles will be placed “at risk of redundancy” – seven new jobs have already been introduced in anticipation of the event and a further five extra positions will be created.
David Brookes, Midlands’ editor-in-chief, said the changes to the Birmingham and Coventry newsrooms would enable the Midlands to continue to grow audiences at a rapid pace.
“We have seen fantastic growth in our online audiences since the start of the year and Newsroom 3.1 will help us continue that success for years to come,” he said.
“Many of our journalists are already multi-skilled and feel confident in producing digital content. The new newsrooms will allow them to become truly digitally-led, producing outstanding and engaging content for readers.”
The new style of operation was launched at Trinity’s Newcastle publishing base in March which led to a net jobs gain of 17.
The Cardiff rollout, introduced last month, is expected to see no jobs either lost or created. The figures for the Manchester implementation have not been finalised.
It appears that seven roles could be made redundant in the Midlands roll-out, including the picture desk while five new roles – senior story editor, a content curator, a football editor, a sports writer and “grass roots sports curator”– are on the plus side in addition to the seven jobs already created.
Chris Morley, NUJ northern and midlands organiser, said: “The introduction of Newsroom 3.1 was known to be coming to the midlands but it has not come with the same level of investment in journalism and journalists jobs as it has done elsewhere.
“Indeed, some of our members have been put at risk of losing their jobs and there is every risk that this might turn into compulsory redundancies.
“We will be working very hard to avoid that situation so that it does not cast a shadow over what our members feel overall are positive developments for how the newsroom operates.”
A TM spokesman added the company couldn’t comment on any specific roles during the 30-day period of consultation.