The National Union of Journalists has presented fresh plans designed to ensure a cuts-threatened weekly continues to be based in its patch.
Publisher Trinity Mirror plans to axe three editorial roles at the Black County Bugle with the remaining two staff working remotely and production and editorial oversight based in Tamworth.
But at a meeting with company representatives yesterday, the NUJ put forward a set of alternative plans which involved reducing the title’s office rental costs while keeping it in Dudley.
The options put forward also include a possible sale of the titles, with two potential buyers said to be waiting in the wings, but the NUJ says it is “reserving judgement” for now on whether this would be the right way forward.
Chris Morley, Northern & Midlands organiser, said: “The NUJ has now submitted its ideas for safeguarding the Black Country Bugle with a sustainable future.
“We want an outcome that keeps the core editorial staff together with the paper remaining in the Black Country – what is an unmistakable essential requirement.
“We now know that there are two potential buyers that have made approaches to the company. The NUJ reserves judgment on these expressions of interest until we know what plans they might have and what credentials they bring.
“However, staying within the Trinity Mirror group as a viable entity is still possible – something the NUJ is actively seeking to assist with.
“Heavy-handed cost-cutting will not produce the outcome that is needed and I am pleased that the company, from chief executive Simon Fox down, are telling us that all options and alternatives are being carefully considered.
“We understand that the company’s position will become clearer in the next few days and before we meet with them again on Thursday next week.”
A union press release added: “The NUJ has highlighted the option to change ownership of the title and the union is currently awaiting confirmation that Trinity Mirror is willing to consider this option.
“The NUJ believes the right buyer or a change of company strategy could give the appropriate care and attention the Bugle needs for a sustainable future based on sound investment and incremental steps to prosperity.”
The union said its alternative proposals include exploring a range of efficiency savings in the first instance, developing commercial opportunities for growth, reducing the expenditure on existing print contracts, and reducing the office rental costs without the need to move to Tamworth.
Trinity Mirror has been approached for a comment.