Trinity Mirror has confirmed it is planning to cut the number of staff on the Black Country Bugle from five to two, with editorial production of the newspaper set to move from Dudley to Tamworth, 32 miles away.
John Butterworth, editor since 2013 and a journalist for 44 years, is among those whose jobs are at risk as a result of the proposed changes.
But John, left, has revealed he intends to put forward alternative proposals to the company that would keep its office in Dudley open.
He told HTFP: “I am in consultation discussing alternative ideas to the company plan for the sake of the Bugle and its staff.”
John, who was awarded the MBE for services to journalism and charity in 2008, was previously editor at the Bromsgrove Advertiser, Leek Post and Times, and Shrewsbury Chronicle – before he lost his job at the Chronicle in 2009 cuts.
His departure would bring to seven the number of ex-Local World editors to leave the business in the current round of restructures.
The others are Paul Brackley, of the Cambridge News, the Leicester Mercury’s Kevin Booth, Dave Atkin of the Scunthorpe Telegraph, Neil White of the Derby Telegraph, Lynne Fernquest of the Bath Chronicle and the Western Daily Press’s Rob Stokes.
Under TM’s proposals, the Bugle will fall under the portfolio of Gary Phelps, who already runs seven weekly titles across the West Midlands from his base in Tamworth, while the paper’s two remaining staff will work remotely.
Last week it was revealed the Nuneaton News, one of Gary’s newspapers, would switch from daily to weekly in a move which will see approximately four jobs lost.
The Bugle specialises in the industrial heritage and social history of the Black Country’s four boroughs – Dudley, Sandwell, Wolverhampton and Walsall – and the National Union of Journalists has challenged TM to sell the paper.
Northern & Midlands organiser Chris Morley said: “I believe there is a big opportunity here and would challenge its Trinity Mirror masters to seek a buyer for this loved publication – someone who believes in its intrinsic value and the great editorial team who have about 50 years of experience between them.”
Added Chris: “Having been a reporter in the Black Country, I know how much the million people in the area respects their industrial tradition. The Bugle is a vital part of life, remembering that heritage and stimulating debate about what can be learned from the past.
“It has punched above its weight and even won a regional journalism award despite being badly neglected and starved of the investment necessary to make it the great success it should be.
“I believe these plans are ruinous for the future of the Bugle and potentially commercial suicide if carried out as they have been presented. With no dedicated editor in the area and only two staff, I fail to see how it could work.
“The NUJ will do all it can during the redundancy consultation period to identify what issues are driving this announcement and work to develop a better alternative that can be positive, not only for the staff but also for the company.”
A Trinity Mirror spokesperson said: “Trinity Mirror today announced the closure of its Dudley office in the West Midlands, with plans for remote working for Black Country Bugle staff.
“Three roles on the Black Country Bugle will be made redundant. Those affected are now in consultation.”
It has previously described the series of senior editorial departures at the company as “separate individual decisions. ”
“It is inevitable after any significant business change such as an acquisition or merger that some individuals take the opportunity to leave the business for various reasons, personal and professional,” a spokesperson said.