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Midlands set to bear brunt of Trinity Mirror cuts as job loss details emerge

Newsrooms in the Midlands are set to bear the brunt of planned Trinity Mirror cuts, according to figures released by the NUJ.

TM announced yesterday that up to 49 journalists were at risk of redundancy across the country as it plans a digital rebrand of seven Midlands dailies, as well as the Bristol Post and Bath Chronicle.

The National Union of Journalists has now claimed 29 of the roles at risk are based in the Midlands – 16 in the East Midlands, 11 in Tamworth and two in Coventry – while eight jobs are also set to go in Liverpool.

Trinity Mirror has declined to comment on the breakdown, and has accused the union of being “more concerned with its own PR than with the future of local journalism”.

The Burton Mail's website will become part of the new Derbyshire Live brand

The Burton Mail’s website will become part of the new Derbyshire Live brand

The union also claimed that the cutbacks in Tamworth risked the closure of the Walsall Advertiser, which was merged with the Great Barr Observer last year.

Other weekly titles run from the Tamworth centre include the Tamworth Herald, Nuneaton News, Royal Sutton Coldfield Observer and Lichfield Mercury.

The union also claims 16 jobs could be lost in the East Midlands – affecting the Leicester Mercury, Derby Telegraph and Nottingham Post.

TM announced yesterday that the three East Midlands dailies will be rebranded online as Leicestershire Live, Derbyshire Live and Nottinghamshire Live respectively – while the Burton Mail’s website will be incorporated into Derbyshire Live.

While the Mail has historically covered the district of South Derbyshire, the town of Burton-on-Trent itself is actually in East Staffordshire.

According to the union, staff in Burton “fear the changes will alienate many readers”.

At the Liverpool Echo, the NUJ says there are plans for eight redundancies, with three new roles created, while at the Coventry Telegraph, the company is targeting one of three content editors and one of three specialist reporters but also plans to hire two trainees.

As reported yesterday, the Liverpool Echo’s website is retaining its current name online, while the websites for Coventry, Stoke and Bristol will also switch to the ‘Live’ brand.

Chris Morley, Trinity Mirror NUJ coordinator, said: “If digital is to be a success for the company, our members want to see a company committed wholeheartedly to it with investment in editorial.

“Instead, the same grim recipe of cuts, increasing stress for those who remain and a sapping of morale as members again feel let down by their own leaders.”

A Trinity Mirror spokesman described the comments as “hyperbole from a union more concerned with its own PR than with the future of local journalism”.

He added: “We are focused on securing the sustainable long-term future of local journalism, by adapting to the changing demands of readers, while the NUJ have their heads firmly in the sand. Our strategy is working and our stories are reaching more local people per day than at any time since the 1970s.”

Meanwhile yesterday’s announcement by TM has drawn criticism from several senior industry figures who previously worked for the some of the titles affected.

Former Derby Telegraph and Bristol Post editor Mike Lowe posted on Twitter: “So the Echo is considered a valuable brand name, but the Sentinel and the Mercury aren’t? Baffling.”

Paul Wiltshire, former Bath Chronicle deputy editor said: “If this means Bath – a city I covered for 19 years – is losing its own dedicated website, this makes me very sad today.”

And former Burton Mail and Derby Telegraph journalist Bill Pritchard added: “Shameful Trinity Mirror. Newspaper of the Year, the Burton Mail, to lose online presence and be put under Derbyshire Live banner.”

22 comments

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  • February 16, 2018 at 3:15 pm
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    TMs selfish response that the NUJ is “more concerned with its own PR than with the future of local journalism” tells us all we need to know about how little they care about the staff being made redundant and how they are purely concerned as to who’s being seen to come off best, no concern that they’re ditching yet another staggering number of journalists,and all because they cannot balance the books any other way.
    If they themselves had any interest” in the future of local journalism” they wouldn’t have closed papers, dumped the best staff and dumbed down the output to such an extent that readerships and ad revenues are at all time lows with local people voting with their feet week after week, month after month making a mockery of the claim that “our strategy is working and our stories are reaching more local people per day than at any time since the 1970s.”
    If this is so why are TMs revenues so bad? Why are the commercial teams failing to monetise this apparent huge upsurge in readers?
    or are they fooling themselves that online popularity and people taking their news for free is something to be applauded?
    I doubt their bean counters, shareholders and bank manager would agree.

    Time for the board to look at the silly money being paid to Ashley Highfield in return for what? a seemingly never ending stream of ill feeling,bad publicity, disgruntled ex employees, dreadful financial revenue figures and the resultant commercial damage being done in the areas these cuts are being made.

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  • February 16, 2018 at 3:16 pm
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    I’m sorry, but there just isn’t any thought-out commercial strategy being displayed here – TM just appears to be making it up as it goes along from year to year now. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the company’s only rationale appears to be the need for continual staff cuts at the same time as its “plans to hire trainees”.
    There’s no elephant in the room, we all know this is a forerunner to being able to drop the printed titles within, say, two years once they are deemed to be no longer economically viable.
    The next ABC figures should be interesting, that’s for sure – and not just at TM.

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  • February 16, 2018 at 3:23 pm
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    Employee X – Ashley Highfield is the chief executive of Johnston Press, not Trinity Mirror.

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  • February 16, 2018 at 3:28 pm
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    “the company is targeting one of three content editors and one of three specialist reporters but also plans to hire two trainees”

    Doomed. All doomed.
    Trainees tend to work best when there is someone to train them and experience is rubbed off on them.
    Honest Toggy will now open a book non how long the green-as-grass trainees become disillusioned and jack it in.

    And nice to see Paul Wiltshire isn’t cross, just very sad at the shameful events.
    (‘Not cross but very sad’ is how my other ‘arf talks to three year olds in the her nursery. And of course your standard three year old has more savvy than your average TM exec.)

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  • February 16, 2018 at 3:45 pm
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    Presumably none of the jobs at risk are the ones the rest of us are all paying for via our TV licences? Am I alone in worrying that TM and the other big operators are being handed “free” reporters by the publicly funded BBC and promptly start getting rid of existing staff?

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  • February 16, 2018 at 4:11 pm
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    Apologies
    I meant Simon Fox
    After a while and with so many similar job cut stories they all merge into one and are easy to confuse

    If you’re me obviously!

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  • February 16, 2018 at 4:17 pm
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    More terrible news of further job cuts at Trinity Mirror makes me wonder just how much meat is left on the bone in their newsrooms as majority of the best staff have departed one way or another
    and I’m sure the line about recruiting two trainees was just included to add further fuel to the fire, poor souls, I’ll give them six months
    Commiserations to those good people being thrown on the ever growing Trinity Mirror ex staff scrap heap

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  • February 16, 2018 at 4:48 pm
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    When Trinity Mirror spokesman loses his job, I hope he goes home and tells his family they’ll have to go without new clothes and basic essentials, but it’s okay because it’s for the good of local journalism.

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  • February 16, 2018 at 6:38 pm
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    TM appear to be making a decent job of building online audiences with the ‘Live’ model. However, the revenue ain’t going to support the business, so costs need to be cut if they are to survive. It’s really pretty simple.
    Head Office costs don’t seem to have been slashedas yet, though.

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  • February 16, 2018 at 7:33 pm
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    A former Trinity Mirror journalist described the Trinity Mirror comments as “hyperbole from a company more concerned with its own PR than with the future of local journalism”.
    Disgusting.
    A very sad saddened journo today.

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  • February 17, 2018 at 11:12 am
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    I don’t necessarily think its a bad thing to split digital and print operations though. Print designers in our office and tearing their hair out daily as a good 50% of the stuff written for the website is irrelevant or embarrassingly fluffy/bad. Having someone to re-write some of the pieces and write some important stories that the newsdesk will turn their noses at as it won’t gain any traffic online, is no bad thing.

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  • February 17, 2018 at 12:00 pm
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    “Our strategy is working and our stories are reaching more local people per day than at any time since the 1970s.”

    Stories? Ah yes, endless clickbait, listicles, barely-rehashed press releases (mainly from Aldi), ‘nightmare’ roundabouts and junctions, with a bit of news as grout.

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  • February 18, 2018 at 8:50 pm
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    If I stand on the street and try to sell oranges I might sell six in a day.
    If I give them all away, Hey Presto! I get rid of hundreds.
    That’s how it is with news stories.
    More hits than ever, but how much money? We never see any hard cash figures on it on HTFP from any company.
    I wonder why?
    I admire those people working their digitals off to make web news work.
    But turning hits into decent money still seems a long way off.

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  • February 19, 2018 at 10:07 am
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    ‘turning hits into decent money still seems a long way off.’

    Unless of course you are ‘uniquely’ funded like Auntie Beeb.
    Scrap the licence fee and create a level playing field. ‘Course that would mean be those Beeb funded local democracy blunts would the be on their uppers.

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  • February 19, 2018 at 10:13 am
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    The loss of respected titles like the 203-year-old Lichfield Mercury, which has already disappeared online in favour of a well-hidden page within Birmngham Live despite not even being in the same county, would truly show Trinity Mirror’s utter contempt for genuine local journalism and community service.

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  • February 19, 2018 at 10:46 am
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    Makes you wonder what is the purpose of the NUJ. It seems to be nothing more than a mouthpiece in favour of journalism. Companies just go through the motions recognising the NUJ as required but it is not involved in decision making. Cuts are announced and it can do nothing about them except issue press releases of objection. Its largely well educated members are overwhelmingly very poorly paid so the evidence is it can’t negotiate on their behalf to any great extent – and that was also the case when it was a hugely profitable industry. Sad, but true.

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  • February 19, 2018 at 11:08 am
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    I’m out of the TM knife dodge, thank god, and rarely visit their websites.
    Is it because I’m bitter about what they have done with some brilliant titles I was lucky enough to work on? No.
    Is it because I’m no longer a target for the bean counters? No.
    It’s because the websites are so clunky. There was a story I wanted to read on one of my old papers, it took ages to load. The reason? Advertising spam. The ‘story’ kept bouncing up and down the page, like my laptop was having a fit. Followed by a ‘take this survey before you read the article’. Erm, no thanks.
    I did, however, persevere, only to find a badly rewritten press release from a city council. I went to that council’s website to read the story, with no slow load, no surveys, no advertising…
    No doubt the digital gurus trying to justify their jobs will tell me I’m wrong, that it’s not all clickbait, intrusive advertising and surveys, but I’m telling it from my experience. Simple as.
    The quality of writing is declining, the subbing has all but died and photography-wise? Don’t get me started.
    Put simpy, TM’s web offer is bloody awful.
    As is their print offer.
    Yet they keep on borrowing money to buy newspapers?
    Why?
    Somebody please tell me why?

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  • February 19, 2018 at 12:42 pm
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    For a long time the Local World/TM web strategy as far as I can see it has been if the clicks are good never mind the quality (or relevance of a story to the local audience). It is killing it’s USP to cater for clicks from the social media crowd.

    There’s nothing wrong in adapting to social media, but for me it seems the core newspaper product is getting lost.

    I struggle to understand their business model as well, the articles are on the aforementioned ad-stricken websites, but you can see the news without the ads on the half-decent mobile app, on Facebook or by using ad blocker, so if you’ve got half decent web sense you can use one of these different platforms. (in which case why have a web site at all? for ad revenue) – and if they realise ads drive people away from clicking through – why continue running them and developing ad free apps?

    They might ultimately be scuppered by new changes in Chrome.
    https://www.theverge.com/2016/8/23/12610890/google-search-punish-pop-ups-interstitial-ads if the advertising continues to be terrible.

    The thing that worries me the most in this whole thing is when they start centralising, so today Burton becomes a part of Derbyshire?

    Tomorrow, will Derby be treated as a suburb of Nottingham and Leicester? probably….

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  • February 19, 2018 at 12:57 pm
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    I echo the experience of Saddened Journo when trying to read anything on the TM websites.
    I’m not such a dinosaur that I don’t realise that smearing sticky chemicals on slices of dead tree once a day or once a week will soon become a very niche product indeed. What’s at issue is that the depth, breadth and quality of local reporting and the local knowledge of reporters in the community is simply not being replaced like-for-like.
    Clickbait, syndicated national articles, badly disjointed ‘breaking news’ and celebrity gossip headlined with AMAZING capitals and exclamation marks all adds up to – well, nothing substantial whatsoever.
    And for TM to lump towns into websites that don’t even cover the same county is just ignorant and insulting to readers’ intelligence.

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  • February 19, 2018 at 2:14 pm
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    Toggy. Entirely agree. Don’t want my money propping up that ridiculous local democracy set up.

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  • February 19, 2018 at 4:17 pm
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    A Trinity Mirror spokesman described the comments as “hyperbole from a union more concerned with its own PR than with the future of local journalism”.

    And this coming from the owners of the Labour supporting Daily Mirror?! No wonder TM have been after the Daily Express. Desmond is obviously their kind of man, not Corbyn.

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  • March 3, 2018 at 7:05 pm
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    What concerns me is that universities and others are churning out journalists with degrees and other qualifications – but where are they going to go.

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