As previously reported by HTFP, Trinity Mirror is planning to axe 19 editorial roles at the Birmingham Mail and further six at the Coventry Telegraph as part of the move towards digital-first publishing.
Those journalists who remain in the new structure will be given targets for online audience growth which will be written into their job descriptions,
However the National Union of Journalists’ chapels in Birmingham and Coventry have now passed motions of no confidence in management over the plans, calling them “unworkable, counter-productive and unprecedented in the industry”.
The new job descriptions make clear that journalists’ performance will in future be measured in terms of how their stories perform online.
“Your performance will be assessed regularly, taking into account audience traffic to your stories and therefore encompassing page views, unique users, local audience and other metrics. You will be expected to grow your page views and uniques in line with the growth we require as a business,” they state.
A statement from the NUJ’s Birmingham chapel reads: “The introduction of individual targets continues to be a huge area of concern for members.
“As such chapel members unanimously backed a vote of no confidence on the proposal to introduce individual audience targets.
“On the face of it these targets would be unworkable, counter-productive and unprecedented in the industry.
“Members urge the company to use this extra time to present clear proposals to members on how these targets would work.”
According to the NUJ, journalists in Coventry believe the new targets will be a threat to journalistic quality, rewarding “easy, fluffy stories and listicles” over long-term investigative projects and stories which need time to develop and check.
They claim it will force them to go for “click- bait” stories at the expense of covering important, local issues and community stories which may attract fewer clicks.
Both chapels have also expressed no confidence in aspects of the redundancy process and are concerned at the lack of information about what the newsroom will look like after the proposed job cuts, with fears unqualified staff will be asked to do reporting jobs.
However it has also emerged that the deadline for voluntary redundancy applications has been pushed back from 16 June to 22 June – a move that has been welcomed by the chapels.
Trinity Mirror has yet to respond to HTFP’s request for a comment on the issue.