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Merged weeklies close amid regional publisher’s cutbacks

A weekly newspaper formed from a merger of two sister titles last year has closed in a regional publisher’s cutbacks.

The Walsall Advertiser and Great Barr Observer has ceased publication following a restructure which has seen a number of journalists who work on the paper leave Trinity Mirror.

TM amalgamated the Advertiser and Observer into a single product last year, but the National Union of Journalists reported in February that the paper’s future had been placed at risk as part of wider cutbacks.

The company has confirmed the last edition of the Advertiser and Observer was published last week.

Walsall end

Walsall North MP Eddie Hughes posted on Twitter: “Very sad to hear the Walsall Advertiser is closing with immediate effect.

“Thank you for your service to Walsall people over many decades and we will miss you popping through our letter box every week.”

The paper was published by TM’s Central Independent News and Media division, and up to 11 editorial jobs were reported to be at risk as a result of the cuts – brought about as part of the company’s introduction of its new ‘Live’ newsroom model, which could see almost 100 jobs lost across the country.

TM declined to reveal how many roles have been lost at CIN, based in Tamworth, but the company said there had been no compulsory redundancies as a result of the Advertiser and Observer’s closure.

It was previously confirmed that Gary Phelps, who served as editor-in-chief of the paper, as well as Tamworth Herald, Nuneaton News, Royal Sutton Coldfield Observer and Lichfield Mercury, would be among those leaving his position.

10 comments

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  • April 6, 2018 at 9:15 am
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    This is such sad, sad news.
    I spent two very happy years at the Walsall Advertiser where it gave me my first opportunity to be an editor and to lead an amazing team of talented journalists who worked really hard to give the title a distinctive voice in a town which has so much to offer and is often overlooked.
    My thoughts go to all those who have ever worked on this title – and its superb partner the Great Barr Observer – but also to the tight-knit and proud communities we served who have lost a valuable local resource.
    Sad indeed.

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  • April 6, 2018 at 11:02 am
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    Thoroughly agree Sam. A very sad day, and further proof, if any were needed, of Trinity Mirror’s approach to regional newspapers of slashing jobs and closing titles. History has also proved the NUJ’s previous warnings/concerns to be right.

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  • April 6, 2018 at 12:11 pm
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    Years ago, when we were owned by another newspaper group, Trinity Mirror were well-known as axe merchants – shouldn’t the so-called ‘Live’ project really be called the ‘Death’ project, with the amount of heads they’re chopping off and their acceleration of the end of local journalism?

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  • April 6, 2018 at 12:51 pm
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    Its a crying shame that the local areas of Walsall and Great Barr won’t be served. Journo’s gone, it will be the commercial team next. No papers to sell space in, its only a matter of time before the axe falls again. Let’s hope the axe starts at the top first, if it is to fall.

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  • April 6, 2018 at 1:57 pm
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    The Midlands Region of TM has always been know and referred to as the graveyard shift. Another very sad day for all concerned.

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  • April 6, 2018 at 3:21 pm
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    HTFP reported on 09 Feb 2018 ‘Trinity Mirror chief executive Simon Fox told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “Trinity Mirror does not intend to close any local titles in the next year, although it closed several in 2017”! Given TM’s track record it was an extremely dubious statement to make at time. Care to comment further Mr Fox?

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  • April 6, 2018 at 3:59 pm
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    Don’t panic – May is on the case. In February this year, she announced a review of the sustainability of Britain’s newspaper industry.
    This from Polly Toynbee under the headline ‘This is an emergency. Act now, or local news will die’ – back in 2009 . . .
    “Another day, another battery of bad newspaper news.”

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  • April 6, 2018 at 5:08 pm
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    OK, another print title has been lost. So if Trinity Mirror’s argument is that digital is the future and that it remains committed to local news, what’s the replacement? Answer: zilch.
    There is currently a well-hidden page for a handful of Walsall stories on BirminghamLive (and no, the proud Black Country borough of Walsall is not part of that city and never has been).
    But that page is ‘powered by the Walsall Advertiser’ with its contact details quoted, so with no reporters feeding into this page there will be nothing, and TM will have completed its total abandonment of the Black Country.
    Except, hang on half a mo, this is the same TM which has just advertised for three Local Democracy Reporters to cover the Black Country boroughs – funded by the BBC licence fee. Cynical I may be but does anyone else think that just stinks?

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  • April 6, 2018 at 6:35 pm
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    I subbed most of the news pages of that last edition – as a freelance! Now how crazy is that? Correction… an ex-freelance, as I have finished with this nonsense.
    Just one post-mortem note:
    TM reported a 19% drop in print advertising last financial year. In Tamworth (where the Walsall Advertiser is put together) last week, that equalled 11 editorial redundancies and no advertising redundancies. Does that equation add up to you?

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  • April 9, 2018 at 9:30 am
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    Barrie
    Your point is a valid one where I am too yet goes unanswered whenever anyone has the audacity to raise it.
    Archants latest shareholder report shows as revenues down another 15% to record low levels yet the ad department carries on unchanged and with as many managers and staff as when times were good.
    A few years ago it made sense to retain reps to try to grow revenues but over the last 4-5 years ad money has severely declined with no chance of it or local business advertisers coming back,therefore reduced numbers of people are needed to handke what little business there is,yet still editorial teams face the chop.
    Why?
    What point are we missing?

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