Trinity Mirror has announced the closure of seven of its regional print titles, with the expected loss of 50 jobs.
Instead the company is putting his faith in what it is calling a “bold, digital only approach,” focusing on growing its websites in the region.
It said that 26 jobs would go at its Berkshire titles – although 12 new roles will be created – and 24 roles at its West London and Surrey operations.
The Reading Post was originally launched as an evening title by Thomson Regional Newspapers in the 1960s as part of a series of new daily titles ringing London. It was taken twice-weekly by Trinity Mirror in 2009.
Today’s announcement means it will now be an online-only operation based around the getreading.co.uk website.
Simon Edgley, managing director of the company’s Southern region, said: “This is a bold digital-only publishing transformation that will re-establish us as a growing media business that delivers the best quality journalism to our digital-savvy audience.
“We wholeheartedly believe that the future of our business here in Berkshire is online and this is an important and pioneering step that might, in time, be applicable to other existing markets or indeed new ones.”
The changes in Berkshire will mean the loss of 17 editorial, 17 editorial, three administrative and six commercial roles and the creation of around 10 new digital editorial roles and two digital commercial roles.
The Post is currently without an editor following the departure of Andy Murrill for a new role as group editor of the Newbury Weekly News. His last day in the office was this week.
The other changes announced today will see Trinity Mirror exiting the local newspaper market in Harrow entirely, with the closure of the Harrow Observer.
And alongside the closure of the three Surrey titles, the Surrey Advertiser is to get an extra edition covering the Chertsey and Addlestone areas.
The full text of the company statement published on the Trinity Mirror website at noon today can be read below.
Union reaction to the announcement can be seen here.
Following a detailed review of the Trinity Mirror Southern (TMS) portfolio the company has today unveiled a transformational digital-only publishing plan in Berkshire.
This move will focus entirely on developing and growing the digital business around the getreading.co.uk website, which has achieved unrivalled market leading penetration in the area – in the last year monthly unique users have grown by 68% (Jan-Oct 213 to Jan-Oct 2014) and the site continues to show phenomenal audience growth.
Investment in the digital only operation, which will also include an app, will allow the site to concentrate on the four key areas of content that matter to the Berkshire audience, namely: breaking news, What’s On, Reading Football Club and sport.
Combined with data journalism and community content the site will deliver a groundbreaking package to the local audience.
Simon Edgley, managing director of Trinity Mirror Southern said: “This is a bold digital-only publishing transformation that will re-establish us as a growing media business that delivers the best quality journalism to our digital-savvy audience. We wholeheartedly believe that the future of our business here in Berkshire is online and this is an important and pioneering step that might, in time, be applicable to other existing markets or indeed new ones.”
As a result of this change the operation’s Berkshire print titles, namely Reading Post, getreading and Wokingham & Bracknell Times will close. This will see the reduction of approximately 17 editorial, three administrative and six commercial roles and the creation of around 10 new digital editorial roles and two digital commercial roles.
Further changes across the TMS portfolio are outlined below.
A radical new structure is being implemented across the west London titles in Uxbridge, Ealing and Hounslow that focuses on driving more traffic to the getwestlondon website. The newsrooms are being restructured to support a revised print portfolio while concentrating on accelerated digital growth.
We intend to withdraw from the Harrow market and the Harrow Observer will close.
A new edition of the Surrey Advertiser – that covers the additional areas of Chertsey and Addlestone – is launching in mid-December 2014. The new edition will ensure that consumers continue to receive the best possible coverage of local news and sport in the area.
The Surrey Herald, the Surrey Times and the Woking Informer will close.
As a result of these changes in west London and Surrey there will be a reduction of approximately 24 roles across editorial and commercial.
Simon Edgley added: “Decisions that impact our staff are never easy to make but they are absolutely necessary if we are to continue our transformation into a modern multiplatform publishing operation, with the flexibility and agility to invest and grow our news brands.”