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Jobs set to go as city daily separates print and digital teams

marc-reevesEditorial jobs are set to be lost as part of a pilot which will see a regional daily’s online operation become independent from the print product.

The Birmingham Mail’s website is set to be rebranded as Birmingham Live in a move which will also see the title’s journalists return to the city centre after ten years at their current Fort Dunlop home.

Publisher Trinity Mirror says the changes will see a “small net reduction in the number of newsroom roles” in Birmingham as a result, although it has declined to say how many.

However, the company says a number of new print-only content roles are being created to write mainly for the Mail, as well as some new commercial and IT roles designed to “expand Trinity Mirror’s reach” in the city.

TM says the new approach will allow Birmingham Live the “latitude to throw all of its resources into one big story for a whole day if that is what its audiences want, without worrying about filling the next day’s paper”.

The publisher has started a period of consultation with affected staff over what it describes as “significant” changes in working practices and culture involving rotas and job descriptions.

In a statement, the company said the changes were aimed at creating “a completely standalone, profitable and sustainable digital business.”

“The new ‘Birmingham Live’ brand presents an opportunity to reach a wider range of audiences, communities and advertisers than that currently served by the Birmingham Mail,” it said.

“The Mail, like other Trinity Mirror newsrooms, adopted the ‘digital first’ approach three years ago, but teams have remained integrated.

“This new structure is designed to reflect the increasingly divergent needs of digital and print audiences.”

Mail editor Marc Reeves, pictured above left, added: “This is an extremely important step for the Birmingham region. The city is the youngest and most diverse in the UK, with a massive appetite for digital news and information.

“Birmingham Live is our response to this, and a bold move to take the initiative to create a sustainable digital journalism business.

“Regrettably a number of jobs will go as we restructure. However, if the model we’re building is successful, we will be employing more journalists and serving more readers than would be the case if we sat back and did nothing.

“One of the most exciting aspects of the change is our long-overdue move back into the city centre after ten years in our current base at Fort Dunlop. I know this will be welcomed in the city and will go a long way to help us connect with our readers.”

The Mail has been based at Fort Dunlop, near the M6, since 2008.

Prior to that it was headquartered in the city’s Colmore business district.


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  • September 5, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    TM creating “a completely standalone, profitable and sustainable digital business.”
    Shock horror.
    I’m holding my breath.
    Nope, breathing again now.

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  • September 5, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    TM really are taking this commercial review seriously aren’t they
    Another day another closure
    Looking around the industry the separation of print from digital will become the norm, most publishers are putting this in place now so expect other regional groups and local publishers to do the same

    However I feel they’ll need more than a move back to the city to help them reconnect with their lost audience

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  • September 5, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Yet more upheaval. I know you can’t make time stand still but I wonder what the real reason is for separating print from digital. As for the move back to the city centre – they should never have moved out in the first place.

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  • September 5, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    I’ll assume that the evolution of the digital-first approach to ‘Newsroom 3.1′ just three years ago wasn’t exactly a shining success at the Mail.

    “latitude to throw all of its resources into one big story for a whole day if that is what its audiences want, without worrying about filling the next day’s paper”. How do T-M know what the audiences want? They measure clicks but no-one actually asks, and a cursory look at regular reader comments on the lines of ‘call this news?’ suggests that what is being served up isn’t what they want, which, funnily enough, is reflected in exponentially decreasing print sales.

    Presumably, Journalists at other T-M regional dailies will be expecting yet another dynamic (knee-jerk) change of ‘strategy’ in the near future?

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  • September 6, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Hi @electricpics. The aim of Newsroom 3.1 was to ensure we reached many more people online than we were doing, because we know that is where most people prefer to get their news and information now. Local audiences have trebled in most places, and overall reach has grown, but we know there is more we can do to reach more local people, more often.

    It’s wrong to say we only count clicks. Page Views are taken very seriously, as this is the metric most closely associated with revenue online, but by no means is it the only metric. Engaged time on page is something we spend a lot of time looking at, as well as which stories attract returning visitors, which stories appeal to visitors who are brand loyal and which stories have biggest impact locally. We also look closely at the stories people are most likely to share, and ask ourselves why this is the case.

    You’re right to point out that you do see the ‘call this news’ thing quite a lot, but I think this was ever thus in local news where there has never been a shortage of people pointing at specific stories and saying it doesn’t pass their news test. The difference now is that we have metrics which should how well read and useful something has been to people, which provides us with the ability to take a balanced view.

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  • September 6, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Before getting all curmudgeonly and nostalgia-addled over what is, essentially, a very bold and necessary move, it’s worth properly digesting Dave Higgerson’s comment above.

    There are – and indeed have been – very few voices in Trinity Mirror management that have echoed such omnipresent logic over the years.

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  • September 6, 2017 at 10:14 am

    Well, at least TM have found the courage of their convictions. The one thing this should show is whether a regional newspaper web only operation is truly sustainable.

    Whether that courage grows to the point that TM will actually tell us remains to be seen.

    As other respondents have pointed out, TM have a long way to travel to reconnect with the audiences they have lost. They do not have a cat in hell’s chance to doing it in print. so they have very little to lose in this move.

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  • September 6, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Just one problem with this plan. There is already a website called Birmingham Live – and it’s been running for the last ten years.

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  • September 6, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Full marks to David for his explanation. You might not agree with it, but it is at least offered.

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  • September 7, 2017 at 9:59 am

    Now here’s a thing – I’m an old-fashioned print journalist who has no problem with digital, or digital-only editions of titles.
    My big problem is the staff cuts that have gone on in the name of modernisation, web-monkey this and web-monkey that.
    The talent that has been lost to the industry is enormous. I know some of the young reporters on my title, well, the two or three anyway, think they are much better than their predecessors, that their style is the best way – but it’s generally lazy. Trinity MIrror this is you. Clickbait, non-local stories, journalists rewriting (if we’re lucky) awful press releases, always going for the easy score.
    Try running a Premiership football team with four players, when once you had a squad with reserves aplenty.
    People will tell you you’ve got it wrong. They’ll stop paying for the pleasure. So you scrap entrance fees and let people in for free. Except, the team performance continues to dwindle. Cash is scarce, you don’t think the oodles of cash you splash on your goalie is worthwhile, so you axe him. Streamlining. You’ve got a striker, midfielder and defender. They can do other jobs, too.
    You can kid yourself on paper. You can lie to the world (and TM’s digital figures don’t seem to tally) and convince a few it’s the best thing since bread was sliced.
    But without those players, those journalists, photographers, subs et al, the product will suffer. Online or in print.

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  • September 15, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    Separate Print and digital. Does this include your sales teams? I can only presume it will. (However correct me if i’m wrong) Well that’s not gong to go down well is it? Where are the digital reps both tele & field going to get their revenue from now? However you will probably see a spike in your print revenue if that is the case. I will just leave it there…!!!

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