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Award-winning editor to step down after Trinity Mirror cuts announced

gary-phelps-tamworth-herald-editorAn award-winning editor is set to step down as part of a package of cuts which could see 11 journalist roles axed at the six titles he runs.

As previously reported, Trinity Mirror is set to cut 49 editorial posts as part of the roll-out of its ‘Live’ online brand across its newspaper centres in the Midlands and Bristol.

It has now been confirmed that Gary Phelps – who serves as editor-in-chief of the Tamworth Herald, Nuneaton News, Royal Sutton Coldfield Observer, Lichfield Mercury, Walsall Advertiser and Great Barr Observer – is to leave as part of the restructure.

All 19 editorial staff roles at the titles, which are published by TM’s Central Independent News and Media division, have been put at risk of redundancy, including Gary’s.

The company plans to retain eight editorial staff to work on the newspapers, to be headed by an executive editor.

In addition to the job cuts, the National Union of Journalists has claimed the Walsall Advertiser and Great Barr Observer, which merged into a single print product last year, could close, although TM has refused to confirm this.

Under Gary’s editorship, the Herald won Midlands Newspaper of the Year in 2015 and 2016.

Also in 2016, the Royal Sutton Coldfield Observer’s fight for a memorial to the victims of a 1955 rail disaster in the town was awarded Campaign of the Year at the same ceremony.

Gary began his career on the Walsall Advertiser in 1990, working his way up from junior reporter to become chief reporter and later news editor.

Eight years later, he became editor of both the Lichfield Mercury and Sutton Coldfield Observer, before taking the title of CIN editorial director in 2005.

As well as the 11 jobs at CIN, the NUJ says 16 jobs are set to go in the East Midlands, eight in Liverpool and two in Coventry.  It is unclear where the other 12 jobs will be lost.

The company has declined to comment on Gary’s departure.

21 comments

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  • February 20, 2018 at 9:40 am
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    TM is absolutely doomed. I tried to read a story on the Liverpool Echo website about some woman who’d bought mozzarella sticks from McDonald’s which had no mozzarella in, and to read it I had to fill out a survey, minimise a full screen advert and watch a short video in the bottom right of Theresa May. ALL the comments at the bottom were negative of the publication too. Anyone who thinks this is a potential model for the future must be nuts.

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  • February 20, 2018 at 9:48 am
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    Could TM be liable for prosecution under the Trades Descriptions Act over their use of the title “Live”?

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  • February 20, 2018 at 9:50 am
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    Very sorry to hear this.

    Gary’s been a great editor and role model at CIN for many years and this surely is a disaster for the Tamworth Herald and what remains of the staff.

    Good luck to Gary and all others in the future. It’s not so bad on the outside…..

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  • February 20, 2018 at 9:53 am
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    This has now moved on from a simple newsprint versus digital argument. Whatever the medium, newspaper companies are stupidly shedding skilled, experienced, committed staff such as Mr Phelps in an increasingly shortsighted approach. You can build up an online audience as much as you like, but it’s not going to bring in the revenue needed to keep reporting staff at their current levels. I’d currently give the printed regional press no more than five years – less if estate agents pull their advertising – but the TMs of this world aren’t going to be around for much longer on anything like their present scale.

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  • February 20, 2018 at 10:00 am
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    A very sad day for Tamworth, Lichfield and Sutton Coldfield. I feel and fear for the remaining staff.

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  • February 20, 2018 at 10:05 am
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    I wouldn’t say this latest cull is down to being short sighted. This is a calculated move by the powers that be, to line the pockets of the shareholders and upper echelon of the company. They have zero interest in the preservation of print and for them, it is just about rinsing this company of all money possible before they put the nose downwards into the sea and abandon ship

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  • February 20, 2018 at 10:07 am
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    Two other things – eight staff to cover six titles is effectively down to seven (or six for some weeks) when you take into account annual leave, bank holidays in lieu or staff sickness (of which there could be a lot with this workload). And what’s happening with photographers – or will reporters be having to supply pictures as well?
    What happens if one week there is a massive story in Nuneaton which takes up much of the resources? Presumably – whether they like it or not – readers in Sutton Coldfield and Walsall are going to be learning a lot about it as there is no way that the pages elsewhere are going to be filled. Or else the as-yet-to-be-appointed local democracy reporters are going to have to churn out the stories.

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  • February 20, 2018 at 10:17 am
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    So, presumably, TM will now apologise to the NUJ for its “hyperbole” and ‘sticking its head in the sand’ after being proven right over the 11 job losses at Tamworth? No, I didn’t think so!
    How long before the 8 who remain at the CIN offices in Tamworth will be moved to the Birmingham Mail’s new HQ in Birmingham city centre – or a cupboard!

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  • February 20, 2018 at 10:49 am
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    Gary and his staff have worked their socks off for the last few years to maintain the dignity and respect that the long-established weeklies have in their communities, concentrating still on genuine local news and views, despite cutback after cutback by Northcliffe then Local World and now Trinity Mirror.
    This is a slap in the face for dedication and professionalism and a true indication of TM’s total contempt for local journalism as opposed to bland regional and national clickbait.

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  • February 20, 2018 at 10:54 am
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    Did I read that right?
    Eight staff working on six papers?
    Great if they’re on some kind of rapid weight loss programme, don’t have social lives, live on their nerves and are desperate to keep hold of any jobs TM throw their way I guess, it’s just a good job TM aren’t concerning themselves with producing quality output any longer.
    Oh and isn’t that now three proficient and experienced TM editors being ejected ( call it what you will it’s the same thing) in so many days?

    I’m just surprised the usual company suspects haven’t been trotted out to Pooh Pooh the comments on here whilst telling us all is rosy in the TM garden and things have never been better.

    Never mind the quality, feel the clicks

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  • February 20, 2018 at 10:55 am
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    I was lucky enough to be Ad Manager at the Lichfield Mercury when Gary was Editor and he was a great support for my team and was always creative highly respected. I am sure he will be missed by both his colleagues and the readers.

    All the best for the future Gary

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  • February 20, 2018 at 11:34 am
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    This brave new world is hurtling towards us at a dizzying pace. Who, in all conscience, could advise any young person to go into debt studying for a career in journalism?

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  • February 20, 2018 at 1:37 pm
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    Yet another experienced editors name crossed off the Trinity Mirror payroll and cost base.

    With true editors all but gone from the industry,to be replaced by easy to manage ‘yes-bots’ easily impressed by a job title for a role which no longer exists,there really is no credibility or value in being given the role of ‘editor’ any longer,so quite why anyone would accept and boast about being an editor for one of the bigger regional press publishers these days heaven only knows.

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  • February 20, 2018 at 3:29 pm
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    This is such sad news. Gary and his team have continued producing truly excellent newspapers with a fraction of the staff many of us who were lucky to proceed him had at our disposal.
    Genuinely heartbreaking for Gary, his brilliant staff, these outstanding newspapers and ultimately the people of Tamworth, Lichfield, Sutton, Walsall et al who all deserve so much better.
    Good luck Gary and the team – you deserve nothing but credit.

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  • February 20, 2018 at 4:06 pm
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    This is so bad for the communities, but the bean counters only understand the cost of everything.
    I think the next five years will see the closure of many weekly papers, and not just in TM. It is a sad fact that quality and staff-wise many of them are hardly worth keeping, despite the heroic efforts of the few people left on them.

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  • February 20, 2018 at 5:02 pm
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    Arguably, the regional newspaper industry has now ‘lost’, more accurately, sacked, too much knowledge, talent and expertise to make any serious recovery.
    I know there will be some excellent young, new journalists still working, but any business needs a knowledge base among its staff, which local papers simply don’t have anymore. Inept management with no real interest in journalism or newspapers, only websites (about which they also know little, just click figures).
    It’s just a clickbait decline now.

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  • February 20, 2018 at 6:26 pm
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    @paperboy
    I think youre being cautious or too kind when you say the next five years will see the closure of many weekly papers,look at how many have either closed already in the last twelve months or have been changed beyond all recognition from must buy weekly papers to thin shadows of their once former selves losing readers by the thousand month after month.
    Looking at current tends, the consistent fall away in reader numbers, the huge copy sales losses every six months on ABC and the way the editorial teams have been reduced to breaking point,staffed by green horns or hangers on and I’ll seriously give it two years max and in all probability, for many titles which are not covering costs much much sooner

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  • February 21, 2018 at 12:54 am
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    Money, money, money. Bugger the sleaze, corruption, unfairness, abuses and other local wrong-doings.

    Who wants to protect the public’s interest and hold the bad people to account ?

    Money, money, money …. who needs journalists ? They’re overpaid and cost money which could go to bloated shareholders, and top management (all seem to share the nickname fat cats)

    Shame non of the morons realise that without journalists there would be no effective local press = no news sales and whoops, no money for fat cats and bloated shareholders.

    Is TM a subsidiary of USA controlled Moneyquest ? They seem to have lots in common, or should that be less in common with the constant job cuts.

    Bleak outlook and bad for England.

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  • February 21, 2018 at 10:22 am
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    Don’t panic people. Birmingham Live served us up with a great in-depth feature yesterday on what happens if you do your weekly shop at B&M. Turns out it was written by Wales Online, but what’s a few hundred miles and a duff feature between friends?

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  • February 21, 2018 at 10:28 am
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    Jazzie.You are possibly right. I was looking through a rose-tinted crystal ball because I once loved the news business so much. Now it is a shambles and hard to work in.

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