Journalists have accused their newspaper of “muscling in” on an independent entertainments website as it undertakes an online rebrand.
Trinity Mirror has announced it is rebranding the Birmingham Mail’s website as Birmingham Live and separating it from the print product, with what it is calling “a small net reduction” in newsroom roles.
The site has previously posted on Twitter about the Mail’s announcement, accusing the Mail of “trying to steal our name” and urging its readers to “watch this space”.
The accusation came in a statement by the Birmingham Mail National Union of Journalists’ chapel issued today which also threatened industrial action if the changes lead to compulsory redundancies.
It read: “We appear to be muscling in on the Twitter handle of a reputable Midland music reviewer @birminghamlive who has more than 12,000 followers.”
But TM says there has been “no confrontation” with the current Birmingham Live and that the company had purchased a different domain name for its new portal, www.birminghamlive.com.
A spokesman said: “As far as we’re concerned there’s no confrontation and issue between the two parties.”
In the statement, the NUJ chapel revealed it had passed a no confidence vote in Mail editor Marc Reeves and claimed up to 10 jobs will be lost at the Mail as part of the current changes, which will also see the company centralise its production operation by publishing more shared content across regional titles.
However, Trinity Mirror accused the NUJ of being “deliberately misleading” and of exaggerating the number of job losses, which HTFP understands is likely to be between five and seven.
The NUJ chapel said: “In a cruel twist only one week after production staff were told their jobs were safe, we are told that two more jobs will be axed in a ‘separate’ national cull. This is despite an overstretched workforce with staff working double shifts and countless hours to get the newspapers completed on time.
“The editor’s plan for our print production team was completely undermined by this national announcement a few days later. It is disturbing that our senior management are not talking to each other when making sweeping changes to the business.
“This operation has been run on the fumes of goodwill for too long. That goodwill has been extinguished. In light of this the Chapel has taken a vote of no confidence in the editor or the vague proposals being made.
“If compulsory redundancies are threatened by management on Monday, we will immediately ballot for industrial action over these forced job losses, low staffing levels and high workloads.”
A TM spokesman responded: “The NUJ are being deliberately misleading, and attempting to muddy the waters. We have been open and honest with them about our ambitions for the business, so it is disappointing they have chosen to misrepresent the facts and mislead their members.
“The NUJ can bury their heads in the sand but we cannot, and change is necessary if we are to build a long term sustainable business.”