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Jobs to go and websites to merge in ‘digital-first’ restructure

Patrick Phelvin 1Up to eight editorial jobs are set to be lost in a “digital-first” restructure at two former Local World newspapers which will also see their websites merge.

New owner Trinity Mirror has announced the proposed redundancies at the Exeter Express & Echo and the Mid Devon Gazette series with all current roles described as “at risk”.

Trinity Mirror, which bought LW for £220m in November, says the move is being made due to “changing commercial and editorial market conditions” and will see the two titles’ news and what’s on operations combine.

The changes follows the departure of Express & Echo editor Jon-Paul Hedge in January, with both titles now overseen by Patrick Phelvin, pictured above left.

Under the plans, the two titles’ companion websites will merge under the Express & Echo brand, giving a “larger reach and more resilience” for the greater Exeter area.

The print edition of the Express & Echo will retain its bi-weekly publication frequency, while the Gazette will remain weekly.

A Trinity Mirror spokesperson said: “We have announced a proposed restructure of our newsrooms in Mid-Devon and Exeter to continue the progress we have made in becoming digital-first and help revitalise our print products.

“We estimate there could be up to eight editorial redundancies, and a formal consultation process has begun.

“The decision to implement these changes has not been taken lightly and is based on a need to adapt to the changing commercial and editorial market conditions, and provide a structure that gives longer term sustainability.

“We remain committed to delivering the content our audience wants, when they want it, in the region via our print and digital products.”

The announcement comes after it was revealed that the editors of two other former Local World dailies were leaving their roles.

The Leicester Mercury’s Kevin Booth will leave at the end of next week, while Paul Brackley, of the Cambridge News, is working his last day today.

37 comments

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  • April 15, 2016 at 3:14 pm
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    Only someone 300 miles away could imagine Exeter and Mid Devon are comparable markets. Lunacy of the first order.

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  • April 15, 2016 at 3:32 pm
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    And it begins. Wonder what further fun they will have as they seek ‘larger reach and more resilience’ in other former LW markets?

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  • April 15, 2016 at 3:32 pm
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    Well well well,what a surprise, first a merger and then jobs go as “digital first” is deemed to be the way ahead despite the claim that this will help “revitalise our print products”
    not quite sure how that works when all i see and read here is digital digital,redundancies and jobs to go

    any jobs at risk in the ad or commercial department or just all from editorial?

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  • April 15, 2016 at 3:47 pm
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    Cripes, I had thought the Local World management were making a pretty good fist of running once great papers speedily into the ground but these Trinity Mirror boys make them look like rank amateurs.

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  • April 15, 2016 at 3:50 pm
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    “larger reach and more resilience”
    Resilience (noun) the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
    Tough for editorial!
    It was pretty obvious this was going to happen in January after former Echo editor JP Hedge ‘announced he would depart’ to be self-employed.
    If I was Echo/Mid Devon Gazette editor Patrick Phelvin, I wouldn’t get too comfortable in that seat….

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  • April 15, 2016 at 3:53 pm
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    Inevitable, I guess, after the recent ‘meet n greet’ drive-by from the editorial big cheese. And there was us thinking he’d pitched up to be impressed by the machine that goes ‘ping’.

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  • April 15, 2016 at 3:54 pm
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    Just how does Mr Phelvin expect to maintain pagination, and hit digital targets, with 8 fewer staff? Audiences for Exeter and Mid Devon very different.

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  • April 15, 2016 at 3:55 pm
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    The digital offering across the ex-LW domain will have to become much better if TM is to employ any staff at all within a year or so because you wouldn’t feed the office cat on the revenue potential there. At present, the standard is uniformly woeful and many sites still blazon the LW logo, despite a TM diktat last month it had to be erased from public view.

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  • April 15, 2016 at 4:00 pm
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    I’d love to see someone from TM management have the balls to show the business plan and revenue predictions they are predicating this ‘digital first’ strategy on. That’s presuming there actually IS a business plan behind all this and not just assorted ex-ad managers/cum MDs joined by editorial types who should know better shouting “digital first” in increasingly loud voices at each other on the 23rd floor of Canary Wharf in an attempt to to be the one to impress fantastical Mr Fox.

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  • April 15, 2016 at 4:03 pm
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    Presumably they will keep the papers down here going primarily so we can continue to publish a page of discount coupons for The New Day and then when that folds so will we. Unless we go first to prop it up, that is.

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  • April 15, 2016 at 4:10 pm
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    So, by my calculation, that’s similar types of announcements in Cambridge & Leicester in 4-6 weeks’ time then.

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  • April 15, 2016 at 4:20 pm
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    The wagons of a fair few other media players have been encircling Exeter for some months. I’d imagine they’re saddling up now for a full-on incursion and the opportunity to walk into town with minimal opposition.

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  • April 15, 2016 at 4:32 pm
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    On this logic TM’s next move should be to merge its Liverpool and Manchester websites. I’m serious: it makes as much strategic, socio-economic and commercial sense as that would.

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  • April 15, 2016 at 4:34 pm
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    Good old Trinity Mirror.

    You can rely on them never to let you down.

    Always come up with a kick in the teeth for journalists.

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  • April 15, 2016 at 4:38 pm
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    Intrigued to know if all of this is a result of the Trinty Mirror team opening the envelope marked Future Strategy handed to them by the Local World management and marketing types who have since scuttled off elsewhere, or they have come to the conclusion this is the best plan for the future of the business all by themselves. Either way, it has the all too familiar sniff of ‘cash now, crash later’ to me.

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  • April 15, 2016 at 4:41 pm
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    Poor old Patrick, a fine journalist with the potential to be one of the best editors in the Expresss & Echo’s recent history, seemingly doomed to battle with inadequate management types alongside him at every stage. And forced to be the spokesman for their ridiculous plans too. I feel sorry for him: he deserves so much better.

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  • April 15, 2016 at 6:38 pm
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    And what about the Torquay Herald Express in all this?

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  • April 16, 2016 at 2:12 pm
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    So the much trumpeted Monday edition will no doubt go now, although JPH had damned it with faint praise on his departure as he obviously knew what was coming.

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  • April 16, 2016 at 9:09 pm
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    And so it starts …the ‘Western Morning News’ site has already been discontinued, so I guess the next move will be to merge the Cornish titles. Then it will be Torquay and Barnstaple are *near* Exeter .It is a huge worry for local democracy and accountability.The ‘Express and Echo’ has had a very good campaign canvassing Devon’s MPs on their views regarding the ‘Panama Papers’ – and quite revealing. (Hello Hugo Swire).

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  • April 17, 2016 at 5:07 pm
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    New Day, same old Trinity, they have already started in commercial loosing Snr experienced staff, they need the efficiencies (savings) to support the online drive, they just need a website for the New Day! Groundhogday.com!

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  • April 18, 2016 at 8:09 am
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    Another example of TM suits lacking the imagination of their own journalists.
    Digital First?
    An extended middle finger to loyal staff and readers.

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  • April 18, 2016 at 10:06 am
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    Wonder how comfortably those working at the Gloucestershire Echo and Gloucester Citizen are sitting today…

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  • April 18, 2016 at 10:22 am
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    The poor old Echo gets kicked yet again by ignorant higher management. Under a previous regime, at one point they were making journos redundant but keeping two regional MDs plus deputies … I truly wish a management buyout was an option and that Patrick, a fine journalist and decent human being, was taking over in happier circumstances.

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  • April 18, 2016 at 10:36 am
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    With one editor running The West Briton, based in Truro, and the Cornishman (Penzance) for some time, these two old Cornish newspapers must be in the merger plan at some stage.

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  • April 18, 2016 at 11:04 am
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    This poor paper serves as an X-rated example of an industry that remains riddled with the cancer of mismanagement. Will someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the Echo’s had six editors, three different print frequencies, four or five website redesigns, three owners, a move of office and two huge staffing culls in the space of about six years. It’s been kicked, pulled, punched and pushed around until there is no stuffing left, just a limp, stained, ripped and nearly forgotten rag doll that no one can bring themselves to toss in the bin. It’s not even that this permanent state of flux has resulted in a product to be proud of and this latest announcement can ultimately only add to the indifference of a weary and confused local population. This thriving city deserves far better – and it sounds like it might be getting it from an alternative source.

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  • April 18, 2016 at 12:55 pm
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    ‘Digital first’ seems to translate as ‘people second’…and I speak as someone whose skill and extensive experience was deemed surplus to requirement in Trinity’s whizz-bang ‘newsroom of the future’.

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  • April 18, 2016 at 2:00 pm
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    Spot on Ex-Cornishman. Once they’re done with their blitzkrieg in Devon, those tanks will be rolling our way, no doubt. Our new SW ed-in-chief has been popping up a lot down here of late…not sure he’s here just for the coffee and the view.

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  • April 18, 2016 at 3:09 pm
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    Anyone else notice a trend towards mini-regionalisation of local news. Not appreciated by the population, who now like ultra local news or national news. My local JP paper is full of non-local news. No local staff to find stories, so pad it out with stuff 40 miles away!

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  • April 18, 2016 at 3:15 pm
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    I’m almost lost for words. Almost. Slippery slope for the once-great Express & Echo in Exeter. The future looks bleak indeed. I have to agree also that the Herald Express in Torquay must now be in the bean-counters’ sights. Keep your heads down team! Cornwall is indeed their obvious next target for sure, as genuinely local newspapers that serve their communities are consigned to trash. The big-players seem to be moving further and further away from very local when we all know that is the only sensible way for print to survive. But what intrigues me most is that if it really is all about Digital First, why has the once-respected Western Morning News (Plymouth) scrapped its website and now diverts clickers to the sister Plymouth (once Evening) Herald? Very odd. I realise that (too) many of the current young players have known nothing different now so I can’t blame them for chanting the mantra. In my experience, it’s always been like that!

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  • April 18, 2016 at 3:30 pm
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    Wonder what plans they’ll have for us readers down here in the Garden of England? If consolidation of titles/brands is the name of the TM game, maybe we might see a merged, countywide website launched to take on the KM on this patch. And why not give it a delightfully retro feel and call it something like This is Kent?

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  • April 18, 2016 at 4:29 pm
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    Still enough bunce around to appoint commercial people whose face fits from around the Plymouth dinner table, hey people? Can never have too many of them, even if we are consigning journalists to the scrapheap…

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  • April 18, 2016 at 5:12 pm
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    Spot on with that comment ‘Jobs for the girls’. They look after their own in commercial around here. If only our editorial managers behaved in the same way towards the people who they claim to represent.

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  • April 18, 2016 at 5:44 pm
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    Ex-Cornishman – g’day, by the way – appearances notwithstanding, you could comfortably fit those responsible for producing all three Cornish titles in a moderately sized telephone box, so a cut-and-shut job on the West Briton and The Cornishman is unlikely to produce much in the way of efficiency savings. Not that either efficiency or savings ever result from these little managerial jeux d’esprit, in my experience, but suits who aren’t seen to be doing something, however inane, don’t remain suits very long: and if (when) it doesn’t work you can always blame the internet.

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  • April 18, 2016 at 10:40 pm
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    Judging by the ‘look at me’ memos, buttering up of new management, increased public appearances and frantic changes to Twitter profiles to include statutory buzzwords then the runners and riders are already off here in the Selling Plate ‘Two Into One Won’t Go’ Editing Handicap.

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