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More than 15 jobs set to go in latest Trinity Mirror restructures

At least 15 jobs are set to go in the latest phase of Trinity Mirror’s rolling restructure of its regional titles, with roles in Birmingham, Liverpool, North Wales and the South East among those at risk.

Staff were informed this afternoon of plans to axe the equivalent of 13.5 full-time posts at the recently-acquired former Local World weeklies in Essex, Kent and Surrey, with a number of weekly editor roles likely to be lost.

The plans will see 12 existing newspaper websites across the three counties merged into three county-wide brands along similar lines to the changes currently being introduced in the South West, each overseen by a single editor.

TM has also announced that 18 existing roles are under threat at its Birmingham, Liverpool and North Wales centres, although 16 new roles are to be created across the three areas.

Eight jobs are set to go in both Liverpool and North Wales, with six new ones being created in each, while in Birmingham, two roles are under threat with four due to be created.

The South East changes will see the equivalent of 5.5 full-time positions lost in Essex, 4.5 in Kent and 3.5 in East Surrey and Sussex.

In Essex, the websites of the Essex Chronicle, pictured below, and Brentwood Gazette will merge to form a county-wide brand which will also cover areas previously considered off the patch of the two titles.

The two titles, which currently have separate editors in Paul Dent-Jones and Alan Woods, will combine under a single editor, with this structure also set to be mirrored on the Kent and Surrey titles.

Essex Chron

In Kent, eight websites – those of the Ashford Herald, Canterbury Times, Kent & Sussex Courier, Dover Express, Folkestone Herald, Maidstone and Medway News, Sevenoaks Chronicle and Thanet Gazette – will merge into a single county-wide brand.

And in Surrey, the sites of the Surrey Mirror and the Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser will be merged into TM’s existing Get Surrey brand.

The names of the new Essex and Kent websites are yet to be confirmed, but HTFP understands they are likely to appear under TM’s existing ‘Get’ or ‘Live’ brands.

All editorial staff across the three counties are at risk of redundancy, and have now entered a consultation period.

On the South East changes, Trinity Mirror said in a statement: “A number of small local websites across the regions will be consolidated into larger newly-launched digital products.

“This is part of Trinity Mirror’s strategy of regional hubs with hyperlocal news and information sections. There will be no impact on Trinity Mirror’s print portfolio in these regions.

“The businesses remain committed to producing quality print and digital news for local communities across the South-East.”

It added: “Separately, there have been some small changes in Birmingham, Liverpool and North Wales as part of ongoing work to have the right resource in place to deliver news our audiences want, when they want it, and to ensure we are continuing to operate efficiently.”

The rolling restructure, launched in the wake of TM’s £220m takeover of Local World last November, has so far seen redundancies announced in the South West, South Wales and the West Midlands.

A total of 22 jobs are at risk in the South West, seven in the West Midlands and four in South Wales.

In addition five former Local World editors – Paul Brackley, of the Cambridge News, the Leicester Mercury’s Kevin Booth, Dave Atkin of the Scunthorpe Telegraph, Lynne Fernquest of the Bath Chronicle and the Western Daily Press’s Rob Stokes – have  left the business.

A sixth, Neil White of the Derby Telegraph, is due to leave on 24 June, while Black County Bugle editor John Butterworth is also at risk of redundancy as a result of the proposals currently under discussion in the West Midlands.

30 comments

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  • May 26, 2016 at 5:11 pm
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    Well done, TM, up and at ’em, those pesky old talented editors and journalists. What a shambles!

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  • May 26, 2016 at 5:47 pm
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    And if anyone thinks this is going to be the last tranche of staff culling….don’t hold your breath.

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  • May 26, 2016 at 7:07 pm
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    Please, please, will the NUJ stand up and earn its monthly donations from its members. Simply releasing the odd statement along the lines of: “This is a kick in a teeth for our members. They deserve better,” is not enough.
    Journalists want its union to fight, to ask its members if they might want to vote for work-to-rule, so the industry heavyweights cannot make money from people who work 55-hour weeks but are only paid for 37. Or even threaten to vote for strike action.
    Do something. Do anything. Because at the moment all we can see are hundreds of journalists losing their jobs and a union standing on the sidelines waving a white flag.

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  • May 26, 2016 at 8:13 pm
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    Well, now we’ve all had an evening (and, I hope, plenty of strong drinks) to digest this news, let’s have a look at it in more detail. Former Local World staff placed in consultation yesterday received a pack comprising a letter, announcement, organisation chart, job descriptions of new roles, a “role preference document”, and FAQs, the latter mainly focused on redundancy, the real aim of this shameful exercise.
    All of the material is printed on Local World stationery as this wholly owned subsidiary is still, legally, the employing entity of the affected staff, despite a recent diktat from Canary Wharf that the name be erased from email signatures, signs above office doors and so on – though, oddly, not the websites, the forum management wants to be the most public aspect of the company.
    In the material given to affected staff, the word “digital” is used about 20 times more frequently than the word “print”, in stark contrast to the figures published in the last annual report that state “declined” print revenue was £485.9m in 2015, while “growing” digital revenue was £42.9m – spot the difference, readers. The word “journalism” is never used.
    The new roles’ job descriptions are presented in something vaguely resembling English; here’s a sample: “{You} support content editors in the planning and scheduling of content packages and use digital analytics to set content priorities.” Come again? My granddaughter’s nappies are “content packages”.
    Buried way at the back of all this risible garbage in the Q&A section is this: “Are we saying print is no longer important?” The answer comes back immediately, in uncharacteristically lucid terms: “Absolutely not. Print remains extremely important and our aim is to outperform market trends… etc etc.” That, of course, is why 5.5 roles are being dumped. TM knows it makes sense.
    As for the Essex editors at risk – Paul Dent-Jones and Alan Woods – both are supremely confident and professionally unrelenting operators, intimidating to some perhaps, but sensitive to the needs of their staff and colleagues, brilliant mentors, consummate newshounds, and both, in their different ways, the most gifted of journalistic and entrepreneurial practitioners (they can sell too) who, in earlier times, would have effortlessly risen to national status.

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  • May 26, 2016 at 10:13 pm
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    Another week, more job losses
    And so the slaying goes on

    Makes you wonder what will remain of the U.K. Regional press by year end,one things for sure with cuts go quality in favour of the cheaper,easier to manage option,with those still hanging on constantly looking over their shoulders wondering who what where and when the next announcement will be made.

    My advice, update your cv and plan an exit strategy now before someone plans one for you because as complacent and safe as you might think your job is,it isn’t

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  • May 27, 2016 at 9:21 am
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    Deck-chairs, Titanic and shuffling spring readily to mind, but not necessarily in that order.

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  • May 27, 2016 at 9:32 am
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    Such a shame. I very recently left a major TM regional, luckily of my own choosing as a decent offer came my way in another industry at a time when I could see the way journalism was going.

    Didn’t really want to leave as many of my happiest times have been spent making contacts and writing stories highlighting local issues, the feedback from readers was tremendously gratifying and I genuinely did love working there until the last year or so.

    But the daily 5-page automated emails to each journo with a forensic breakdown of their web stats and the monthly rollockings for growth of ‘only’ 100% have sapped morale and fuelled mind-numbing clickbait to the extent where anything other than football and celebrity might as well not bother. Print? Forget it. The ‘P’ word was not to spoken of. Since I’ve left my patch I’ve not been replaced, resulting in loads of major local stories in my field not being covered or even acknowledged.

    Loads of good people still there and it saddens me that they have to go through this yet again. I was one of the lucky ones and got a 30% pay rise, a new career with genuine prospects and a working week a third less than the 60 hours I regularly put in for TM.

    I won’t pretend to have all the answers. I can’t see that this is a race which can be won, but I can honestly say the content of my TM regional is now so tedious I barely even look at it once a month.

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  • May 27, 2016 at 9:40 am
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    “New roles are to be created.”
    That’ s for gullible investors to swallow.
    The people losing their jobs could be retrained.
    The Trinity Mirror ship is well and truly on the rocks and the tide is going out fast.

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  • May 27, 2016 at 9:49 am
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    For any trainee journalists reading this, my piece of advice as someone still working in the industry is once you get a job, make sure you don’t fall into the “in my day things were much better” trap. Move with the readers and don’t risk becoming irrelevant.

    I don’t know anyone who buys papers any more and I bet you don’t either – so what choice do we have but to give the readers what they want and build on digital.

    The best thing I read recently was in the New York Times – the writer’s name escapes me – but they said the main thing holding journalism back is journalists.

    It’s awful when talented and experienced journalists are shown the door. However I’m willing to bet some of these jobs are at risk in a dead wood shifting exercise. You can be an amazingly talented writer but if you can’t tweet your stories or shoot a half decent video – or you’re not willing to try – you’re risking getting left behind. And digging your heels in only looks like you’re too stubborn to adapt to the changing nature of journalism.

    It’s not hard to grow these skills – it just takes a bit of confidence and practice.

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  • May 27, 2016 at 10:03 am
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    Did Trini£y Mirror have any idea what it was going to do with the Local World titles when it bought them? The company seems to have gone to the supermarket and then thrown the bags of shopping in the bin on the way home. Even by their standards this looks like spectacular strategic incompetence.

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  • May 27, 2016 at 10:19 am
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    Well, Floater, not one of the jobs at risk in Essex is “dead wood” (far from it) and all of the newsroom staff have the skills you mention. However, here’s a snippet that may interest HTFP readers – none of the new jobs that have been created mentions a salary. A staff member who is applying for one has been told that the information is not available. So, you apply for a job to earn money but you’re not told how much that money is. What’s that all about? Answers on a digital postcard, please.

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  • May 27, 2016 at 10:31 am
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    Floater The North. sound common sense in today’s digital environment. Working in print for me was once a wonderful way to earn a living. I dislike the new superficial clickbait journalism but perhaps today’s digital hacks can get the same enjoyment as I did. I really hope so. It is all in the mindset.

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  • May 27, 2016 at 10:33 am
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    Floater. Bravo for you. You are obviously a multi-talented, hard-working, young go getter who understands how the industry has changed. You are also gullible beyond comprehension.

    Here’s the reality so you can hopefully realise how wrong you’ve got it.

    1. The reason you have to embrace this multitasking you revel in is because you’re doing the work of 3/4 people. That saves your employer lots of money.

    2. You’re probably being paid less than a journalist was getting ten years ago. That saves your employer lots of money as well.

    3. Newspapers (print) are in terminal decline so owners are trying to squeeze out as much money as they can before the paper closes.

    4. It is almost impossible to make money from digital. Look at the numbers and you’ll see I’m right.

    So, enjoy your glittering career for as long as it lasts. I’m sorry to say it won’t be long. As Bob Dylan once said “Money doesn’t talk, it swears”

    PS. Yes, it was better in my day. I earned enough to get a mortgage and have a decent standard of living. You?

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  • May 27, 2016 at 11:53 am
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    The Daily Post appears to be one of the titles doing the best numbers / growth online – so a job cut seems odd.

    Does anyone know if the welsh title has ever had a welsh editor, or is it always people parachuted in as a safe pair of hands across the mersey?

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  • May 27, 2016 at 12:14 pm
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    As if Trinity Mirror’s management of the print side of things isn’t bad enough, it is bewildering that in their “digital first” world, some of their titles cannot even support (or no longer merit) their own website – these now seem to be closing or merging at the sort of rate they had closed print titles over the past few years. What next?

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  • May 27, 2016 at 12:45 pm
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    The Kent Messenger Group must be laughing their heads off today. Northcliffe was developing a countywide brand which could have been used to challenge the KM in areas (Maidstone, Medway, etc) where Northcliffe/LW had no print product, but that site was broken up into smaller newspaper sites because editors demanded it. Now, after a few years of developing those smaller sites serving specific communities, TM comes along and decides to stitch them all back together again under a different brand.

    Meanwhile Kent Online and the KM sail on with a strong, unified brand across print, online and radio – with what appears from a reader’s perspective to be a commitment to proper journalism over the obvious clickbait that proliferated at LW.

    To think there were some in Northcliffe newsrooms who cheered when the KM’s attempted takeover of east Kent titles fell through. What odds they’d rather be part the KM family today, rather than at the mercy of the TM axemen?

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  • May 27, 2016 at 12:56 pm
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    I’ve run out of things to say about these endless redundancies. It’s like a misery-go-round that never stops.

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  • May 27, 2016 at 1:07 pm
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    In your day, Harry, Facebook hadn’t been launched. Things have changed, old chap

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  • May 27, 2016 at 1:10 pm
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    Managers in the regional press are falling over themselves to stack up a the biggest pile of “likes” and “visitors” in the forlorn hope that one day soon this will be morphed into “revenue streams” of sufficient volume to fill the black hole left by collapsing circulations.

    Anyone who gets in their way is mown down.

    When they’ve finally wiped out their own industry through blind stupidity, the only ones who’ll be left standing are Facebook and Google.

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  • May 27, 2016 at 1:36 pm
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    Floater – have you been sent on here by the Trinity Mirror editorial directors with the sole purpose of winding us up?

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  • May 27, 2016 at 2:43 pm
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    just as an aside on this…anyone have and ideas on what Iliffe are up to? HTFP carrying recruitment ads for editorial positions for new products/launches?

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  • May 27, 2016 at 4:57 pm
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    Floater, I agree with you up to a point.
    I wouldn’t want to deter anyone from a career in journalism with talk of the good old days if that’s what they want (and they really would need to want what remains of it).
    However, I was a “talented and experienced” “print” journalist with a fairly lengthy and successful career to shout about.
    I was also one of the first in a very well respected newsroom to start using Twitter (2009), blogging, etc and all before anyone senior and “digital first-focussed” told me too. I embodied digital first in that I embraced it, of my own volition, first.
    Inevitably, I was also made redundant by TM at almost exactly the same moment that they caught on to the emerging importance of digital too.
    I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact that TM wasn’t prepared to pay the going rate for my skills and abilities? I reckon so.
    They can pay two people for the same price as me, but neither of them will be able to afford a decent place to live.
    Floater, I salute your naivety. Please accept my sincerest condolences that you arrived too late for better times.
    And to anyone faced with with redundancy, keep your chin up.
    I found my feet – with terms and conditions commensurate with my skills and experience in the outside world – and you will too.

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  • May 27, 2016 at 5:23 pm
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    And how much did Mr Montgomery get for the sale? I saw one estimate saying £10m. Surely not. Obviously not true.

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  • May 27, 2016 at 6:01 pm
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    Very sadly, I’d advise any youngster considering entering journalism to think hard and find something else. Almost certainly it would be a better decision. We’re all doomed, by the way. In my 42 years in the trade it was much nicer. I thank you.

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  • May 29, 2016 at 6:42 pm
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    And this the same day a content writer role is advertised on HTFP at the Liverpool office, methinks anyone who goes for that job from outside TM can expect a 15 minute interview by someone who yawns a lot and hasn’t read their CV. Yes I’ve been there…twice. Good times.

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  • May 31, 2016 at 8:42 pm
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    I wonder how far Woodward and Bernstein would have got if they’d had to Tweet, file video posts and been assessed on their on-line reach as they went along. Not very far, methinks.

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  • June 1, 2016 at 9:58 am
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    Agree with the sentiments of Pappa Springs… but the reality is that it’s down to the individual NUJ chapels in these areas and their members to find the stomach and courage to fight.

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  • June 1, 2016 at 7:29 pm
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    I have every sympathy for those who find themselves at risk of redundancy. I’ve been there myself and the most important thing is to decide whether you believe in the future or not. If you don’t, it will only hurt to stick around. As so many people on here say, there is a life outside regional journalism for those who don’t believe it is for them anymore.

    Dick Minim, who presumably is directly involved in these redundancies, makes the point about digital being referenced 20 times more than print in the packs given to staff. That surely makes sense because, like it or not, digital is the future of the regional press, if there is to be a future for the regional press. The same is true of perhaps all media so dismissively referred to as ‘legacy media.’ If not digital, then what? Do we really believe that the decline of print can be halted, because there is no evidence – from any company, be it big PLC or family-owned outfit – suggesting that is the case. So it’s ok to talk about 75% of the revenue being in print, but five years ago that was 95%, and it’s only going one way. Does the industry ignore the internet until the road has run out in print, by which time it’s too late to change?

    None of this will be of any comfort to people having to decide their future, but I believe at times like this it’s important to focus on what matters to you and what you can change, rather than fighting against the things you can’t. Good luck all.

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  • June 2, 2016 at 10:03 am
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    Damn Me: that’s a perspective on the argument and I take your point about digital, but Dick Minim’s figures from TM’s last set of annual results show the ratio at print = 91% of revenue, digital = 9% (figures rounded up slightly). The actual sums involved (how difficult it often is to get hold of hard figures now and if it wasn’t for company law I’m sure we wouldn’t) also paint a worrying picture. Of course print is declining fast but that £42.9m won’t keep anyone at all in a job, especially within the framework of a top heavy corporation – the chief executive’s £2.3m remuneration alone is 5.5% of that. I agree that we all have to think about the future and that’s difficult for some if it involves a big change. But there is no future in regional journalism now so change we must… The alternative is proverbial.

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