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Cuts-hit weekly journalists to stay on patch after talks with publisher

A cuts-threatened weekly newspaper will keep its office and three journalists on patch after discussions between staff and its parent company.

Trinity Mirror has confirmed journalists at the Black Country Bugle will move into a new room within the Dudley Archives building, where it is currently based, after what the company called a “productive and positive” consultation with staff and building owner Dudley Borough Council.

Three out of five staff at the Bugle had also been facing redundancy from the paper as part TM’s ongoing restructure of former Local World titles it now owns.

However, the publisher has now revised this figure with two set to leave – including editor John Butterworth.

It will instead be edited by Gary Phelps, who will add the Bugle to his existing portfolio of seven weekly titles in the West Midlands.

Additional support will come from a production team 32 miles away in Tamworth, where TM had originally planned to base the retained Bugle staff currently working in Dudley.

Dudley Archives

It is understood Bugle staff sought out the alternative room in the Archives building, pictured above, which is believed to cost £3,500 per yer to rent compared to the £16,000 currently spent on its present base.

After the initial proposals were announced by Trinity Mirror last month, a campaign was launched by the National Union of Journalists and Dudley North MP Ian Austin with a view to looking at alternative plans to the proposed redundancies.

Two prospective buyer were understood to have been considering purchasing the newspaper.

Said Gary of the new proposals: “The Black Country Bugle is a unique product that reflects the heritage and character of a distinct part of the West Midlands. However, many of its unique qualities have also presented it with significant financial challenges in recent years, which placed its future in doubt.

“Our initial proposal aimed to provide a solid financial base going forward for the title, based on tried-and-tested models that have proven successful with our newspapers elsewhere.

“However, we were always aware that, because of the unique nature of the Bugle and the Black Country – and the geographical distances involved – the opinions and ideas expressed by the paper’s long-standing staff could provide real, viable alternatives.

“We have been involved in a methodical and open consultation exercise that has taken on board their ideas to produce a new proposal that we believe will create a robust business model, that stays in the Black Country.

“This has been a great example of a consultation that has listened to all those involved, and has produced a positive outcome for the Black Country and the Bugle’s readers.

“I would like to thank all those who have taken part over the last few weeks for their professionalism during a very difficult period. Together we have built a plan that will ensure the Black Country’s heritage will continue to be reported by the Bugle in its own inimitable way for the forseeable future.”


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  • June 2, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    “This has been a great example of a consultation that has listened to all those involved, and has produced a positive outcome for the Black Country and the Bugle’s readers.” Excellent. Presumably editor John Butterworth was “listened to” as well. His silence here is deafening.

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  • June 2, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    “It will instead be edited by Gary Phelps, who will add the Bugle to his existing portfolio of seven weekly titles in the West Midlands.”

    Just let me edit it instead, I’m 200 miles away but am underworked which is why I’m always on here. My response to every email can be ‘sounds good, keep up the good work!’ even when the email is ‘we can’t find the fire escape’ or ‘we’ve run out of pens’.

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  • June 2, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    Don’t knock this, folks. This is the remaining staff, who are probably highly capable, long-serving and loyal, saving their own jobs. “We can’t find the fire escape” emails will not happen. For once, TM have listened. Shame about John Butterworth, but at least the Bugle is staying put.

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  • June 2, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    The more I read of these HTFP stories the more I honestly don’t believe the destruction of print media is about the growth of online or falling revenue, I think it’s genuinely been a concerted effort to weed out any old school characters who’d disapprove of these companies moving into full blown commercial ventures chasing only advertising dollars.

    If you look around most newsrooms now it’ll be a lot of younger reporters who don’t remember anything better, with – if you’re lucky – a couple of experienced hacks with a thousand yard stare and elevated blood pressure.

    There’s been a gradual shifting of personnel, usually at the top levels, from people with editorial backgrounds to ones with commercial backgrounds, or people who’ve proven in the past they don’t ‘fight the machine’. Some of it has been done subtly and some not so subtly, but the results have been the same – a company that is geared purely towards chasing ad revenue and pleasing commercial clients, certainly not in entertaining readers or fulfilling a public service.

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  • June 2, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    Further to that, just had a look at the independent which seems to have descended Into click bait fodder since the print operating folded. I give it a year before the Guardian is peddling stories about Kim Kardashian’s shoes and the destruction of all none conservative media as an investigative force will be complete. At some point the print media has been singled out as a target and destroyed. Others may remember better, but I think around 20 years ago the government pulled the plug on advertising in local papers and were warned at the time many would go to the wall as a result but didn’t care, wonder why?

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  • June 2, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    Great Gary Editing eight titles. Stands back in amazement.

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  • June 2, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    It’s probably just as well you left journalism Jeff Jones, as your grasp of reality (or lack of it) would soon land your newspaper in court.

    I work in one of the Trinity Mirror newsrooms you regularly seek to criticise on here and can safely say that there are plenty of people prepared to speak their mind, an editor who listens to what people have to say, and a room full of journalists determined to do a great job.

    There are also journalists who – shock horror – understand that to keep our jobs, the company we work for has to make money. Making money doesn’t mean compromising journalistic standards. Or at least not if done with something more than a simplistic outlook on life.

    Now, back to that press release you were writing, or whatever it is you should be doing when not trotting out rubbish on here.

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  • June 6, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Being accused of posting rubbish online by someone who works for Trinity Mirror takes irony to a whole new level, given that you probably spent last week posting pictures of Doritos that look like John the Baptist and being told what stories to write by a third rate computer programmer.

    Just to clarify, your stance appears to be ‘I don’t agree with you therefore it’s rubbish’, is that right? As someone who has a 14 year age gap with his younger sister I’m not completely unused to this somewhat unorthodox debating style, but I was hoping for an evidence-based discussion where we could talk about things like launching a national newspaper that only lasts for nine weeks, or maybe the fact TM, despite owning the only Sunday red tops besides the News of the World, couldn’t make any inroads into its readership even after it ceased to exist. I’d suggest that as evidence goes this is OJ and the bloodstained tracksuit, and you’re certainly no Johnny Cochrane.

    It’s interesting too that I didn’t actually mention TM in my post but the industry itself, yet you felt the need to come on and defend it. In effect you’ve perfectly illustrated my earlier point.

    As I’ve said many times, there were – and are – some great journalists working at local papers, but one thing they always had in common was that – even during the back end of the good times which I was lucky enough to catch – they couldn’t give two hoots about the company.

    A journalist’s loyalty begins and ends with their newspaper (its reputation and legacy), their community (which is why they don’t like offices being closed) and their colleagues (which is why they don’t like seeing them being maltreated). In fact, it was this loyalty that often brings them into conflict with the company – stories we see on here every day, including today.

    Journalists by nature don’t like authority, it’s what makes them good at the job, and their attitude towards their CEO is often the same as their attitude to a chief of police or a council leader – one of healthy cynicism and detachment, and an inbuilt resistance to spiel.

    Unfortunately, they’re also not the kind of people that are wanted in a newsroom that’s trying to achieve commercial synergies (!?).

    But the fact you’ve parachuted yourself in to defend the Reichstag with your strawman sandbags and are trotting out the usual nonsense from the TM excuse playbook is genuinely embarrassing, and it shows the red line must be thinner than I first feared, but then I would expect little else from a company that suppresses its ABC figures.

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