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Award-winning regional daily reporter at risk of redundancy

PM2918062A regional daily business writer named the best in his region at an awards ceremony last year is facing the threat of redundancy.

Jon Griffin, business editor of the Birmingham Mail since 1998, won the business journalist of the year award at last June’s Midlands Media Awards, having previously won the same prize in 2013.

He was also shortlisted for the business journalist of the year prize at the Regional Press Awards for 2013.

Now Jon, pictured, is one of two staff at Trinity Mirror’s West Midlands titles whose posts are at risk, along with a Coventry Telegraph employee who works in an administrative role.

Jon began his career at the Peterborough Evening Telegraph in 1975 and first joined the then Birmingham Evening Mail in 1978.

He had stints at the Coventry Telegraph and then the Wolverhampton Express and Star before rejoining the Mail in April 1996

Maureen Messent in Regional Media 'Hall of Fame'In a separate development, TM is also reducing the number of freelance contributors at its Midlands titles.

Among those under threat is veteran columnist Maureen Messent, pictured left,  who has written for the title since the 1960s.

Maureen retired from the staff of the Mail in 2003 but has continued to write a column for the paper until now.

She was inducted into the Regional Media Hall of Fame – then part of the Regional Press Awards – in 2006.

A Trinity Mirror spokesperson said:  “Trinity Mirror is currently in consultation with two full-time editorial staff members at the Birmingham Mail and Coventry Telegraph.

“We are also in the process of reducing use of contributors, as part of a newsroom structure review.”

24 comments

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  • March 24, 2015 at 9:58 am
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    There might have been a time when the apparent contradiction in terms of an award-winning journalist being ‘redundant’ would have given newspaper managements pause for thought. Sadly those days are gone, as I know to my own cost.

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  • March 24, 2015 at 10:11 am
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    Awards and the like mean nothing in the face of steep revenue declines, I’m afraid. Journalistic excellence often corresponds to a decent salary and in many publishers now they are only offered to “executives” who appear to have no discernible talents other than nest-feathering. Condolences to Jon if he is to lose his job.

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  • March 24, 2015 at 10:33 am
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    No point staying in a job more than two years any more as you are only nearing the push anyway, Go on your own terms, start looking after six months.

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  • March 24, 2015 at 10:37 am
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    Sad to see a former colleague and friend (albeit one I haven’t seen for a long while) facing the TM axe. Hard to work out who will be creating the content, if Jon is being followed by freelance contributors.

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  • March 24, 2015 at 10:38 am
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    No-one is safe now that the children have been put in charge of organising their own birthday party. It will all end in tears.

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  • March 24, 2015 at 10:40 am
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    Over 50? Be worried. Over 50 and talented. Be very afeared. How does this industry stagger along with so much experience and ability lost? I hope TM come to their senses, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

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  • March 24, 2015 at 11:10 am
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    @saltydog – so much experience and ability lost? add in complete lack of innovation.

    Who in their right mind thinks this is in anyway shape or form a recipe for success.

    It’s not.

    Furthermore these titles are being paired back so much – in many cases down to one reporter per constituency – that they have become little more than blogs. Something the committee provides for already, and often better.

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  • March 24, 2015 at 11:43 am
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    Everyone at the TM Midlands is stunned by this – Jon is respected by all and held in high esteem. To say he’s being shoddily treated is a huge understatement. He’s an excellent performed and ambassador for the company and most of the business leaders in the city will wonder what on earth management is doing.

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  • March 24, 2015 at 11:59 am
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    What the hell is Trinity Mirror thinking abouit. Jon Griffin is the only remaining true professional left in Birmingham, take him away and where will the real content come from?
    It is difficult to believe now that the ‘Evening Mail’ as we knew once sold 400,000 a day. The way the so-called senior management are going it will soon be destroyed completely. I do hope they see sense and retain Jon………..Ken Jackson

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  • March 24, 2015 at 12:08 pm
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    Sorry to hear of Jon’s plight but there can’t have been much opposition in the Midlands Media Awards after all the closures and job losses!

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  • March 24, 2015 at 12:23 pm
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    You don’t know how right you are saltydog. I went for a news editor’s job at a paper where I was the only senior on the reporting side, only to be told just before I went into the interview that the publisher wanted a man in his 30s for the job. I’m the wrong sex and too old. I’ve no idea why I carried on with the process but I did and then handed in my already written notice the as soon I was told I hadn’t got it.
    Now the person who interviewed me is being made redundant and the man in his 30s who got the job has been lined up as a group editor.

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  • March 24, 2015 at 1:02 pm
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    The chiefs don’t make these sorts of decisions on a whim. I can guarantee there is a plan in place in order for this to become a cost saving exercise.
    It won’t be a good plan, but it will be a plan nonetheless. It’s what we’ve come to expect on the shop floor.
    I strongly suspect a potential deal has been done with a provider of regional business news who could supply business copy for both the Birmingham Mail and Coventry Telegraph in exchange for a partnership which involves promotion and exposure for the supplier.
    It’ll be at the cost of two specialist reporters which will look like a very good saving when projected on to a screen in PowerPoint presentation in front of the MD.
    Like I said, not a great plan, but that should keep things afloat for a couple more months until they find another part of the newsroom to target.
    Simples.

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  • March 24, 2015 at 1:18 pm
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    You could be a Pulitzer prize-winner – it wouldn’t make any difference. It’s a body count. If he survives this round of redundo, he’ll be in the frame for the next one, or the one after that…
    PS I survived five rounds but there have been another three since then!

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  • March 24, 2015 at 2:17 pm
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    What do the NUJ actually do these days? Genuine question.

    I stopped paying my dues to them a few months back as I’ve needed their help on a personal matter and people kept saying they’d get back to me but never did, so I joined one at my new (non Journalism) employer instead, now I get money off eye tests and (I think) certain makes of shoes. Life win.

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  • March 24, 2015 at 5:01 pm
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    Tragically the kind of people who run newspapers these days have no regard for talent or experience. No matter how brilliant you are at the job. No matter how loyal, diligent and supremely professional you may be, they’ll still make you redundant at the blink of an eye should it happen to suit their latest cost-cutting plan. Of course they quite like crowing about staffers who win awards but such accolades count for absolutely nothing when the latest round of cuts come around. I speak from bitter experience.

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  • March 24, 2015 at 5:10 pm
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    Black shuck. I should be shocked by your story, but the sad thing is I am not. Since losing my job I have applied for several jobs. Have not even received an acknowledgement. The industry is run by ignorant fools with no manners or respect.

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  • March 25, 2015 at 8:59 am
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    A senior journalist who writes for the nationals once told me is that it actually helps to be incompetent at your job and to have no talent.
    That way you are no threat to those above you.
    Considering some of the bosses in the company I work for, he could well be right.
    Certainly I have come across a preference for youth, even if they lack life skills, writing skills, etc, etc.
    At least my current editor, a mere 20-something, respects the talents that us old trouts in our 40s have. We certainly outperform the juniors and trainees in our cluster, showing that experienced seniors are a very cost effective and cheap way of filling your paper courtesy of the quality and quantity of copy we produce.

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  • March 25, 2015 at 12:12 pm
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    @Flossie. I was definitely cost effective. My pay as a senior was under £17,000 a year. As I understand it they tried to replace me at that price but failed, so had to appoint yet another trainee. I see the cringeworthy result of having a reporting team entirely composed of juniors every time I look at their website.

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  • March 25, 2015 at 1:08 pm
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    Morale has plummeted in the newsroom at BPM media. This decision shows that good journalists are at risk. They’d rather have ‘harvesters’ who rip content off the web and repackage as our own.

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  • March 26, 2015 at 10:14 am
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    The sad face is newspaper bosses just don’t care about the quality of the product.
    The internet offers the perfect excuse to effectively manage decline, making cuts and redundancies to generate a bonus-earning slightly-less-than-last-year rate of failure – all in the name of ‘restructuring’ and ‘modernising’ the business.
    As well as feeding off the dying print carcass, though, these papers are light years behind on the internet side of things also. They just do enough to make it look like they’re moving with the times.
    It’s all possible because the industry’s union is completely toothless in the grand scheme of things (in terms of having the power to stand up for staff in terms of pay, long working hours and staff cuts – but they do their best don’t get me wrong), and they know local newspapers will always have some interest due to certain generations largely buying them out of tradition – hence, the gradual decline (rather than readers suddenly boycotting the product) supporting the masterplan.
    And the other sad thing, of course, is that the work of top journalists, working ridiculous hours for little reward, is also helping to limit this decline to just a gradual one. Yet rather than being recognised in any substantial capacity, they ultimately pay the price as they’re efforts fuel the strategy that will ultimately kick them out onto the street and line a fat cat’s pockets.

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  • March 26, 2015 at 11:06 am
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    Jon is a brilliant reporter and writer. I’ve known him and respected his work for many years. I just hope he can negotiate a big payoff before finding a more worthy employer.

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  • April 1, 2015 at 11:10 am
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    Jon Griffin is a highly respected professional and if made redundant will leave huge holes in the Post and the Mail.
    He is an old-fashioned seeker of the truth – the sort that regional newspapers desperately need to cling on to if they are to retain any credibility.
    It will be surprising if the West Mids business community don’t show their feelings on this.

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