Trinity Mirror has announced that Birmingham Mail editor Steve Dyson and Birmingham Post editor Marc Reeves will step down from their roles by the end of the year, as part of wider changes at BPM Media.
Dave Brookes, Coventry Telegraph editor, has been named as editor-in-chief across all BPM titles (Post, Mail, Telegraph and Sunday Mercury) and as editor of the Birmingham Mail.
The changes, which are the result of a consultation at Trinity’s Birmingham division, will include:
The Post going weekly
A risk of approximately 40 editorial redundancies
A further 42 redundancies from the transport, distribution and newspaper sales departments
Further to Trinity Mirror’s announcement that the Birmingham Post could become a weekly and the Birmingham Mail could be produced overnight, the National Union of Journalists has issued a statement condemning more job cuts at the Midlands titles.
Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, said:
“Trinity Mirror managers have been shown to be irresponsible with regard to the truth and their attitude to their newspapers and the communities they serve.
“The union will fight to defend the jobs of journalists and the future of the Post.”
Earlier this afternoon the National Union of Journalists announced that strike action will no longer take place at Trinity Mirror’s Birmingham-based titles after the NUJ chapels ‘secured an agreement for no compulsory redundancies’.
Twenty-four hour industrial action had originally been planned to take place on Thursday.
The National Union of Journalists announced yesterday that its members at Trinity Mirror titles in Birmingham have ‘unanimously passed a motion of no confidence in the company’s management of its regional titles.’ NUJ members at the Birmingham titles are currently balloting for action, following the announcement of job cuts and closure of weekly titles.
Trinity Mirror responded in a statement, accusing the NUJ of undermining efforts for the two parties to work together.
“This is yet another publicity-grabbing stunt by the NUJ which, once again, does absolutely nothing to address the commercial challenges facing our Midlands businesses and completely undermines their claims to be working constructively with us,” said Georgina Harvey, managing director at Trinity Mirror Regionals.
“A point further proved by the fact that, to date, we haven’t received a letter from the NUJ themselves and have only been made aware of its existence by the trade media.
“The NUJ’s constant claim that we are making cuts in the pursuit of short term profit is frankly laughable and insulting. The bottom line is the Midlands business is no longer profitable – it’s running at a loss. Our first priority has to be to stop the losses and reverse the trend. That will involve some hard choices; difficult decisions but necessary ones if we are to save our businesses in the Midlands.”
The National Union of Journalists announced today that its members at Trinity Mirror in Birmingham have ‘unanimously passed a motion of no confidence in the company’s management of its regional titles.’
The motion was agreed by the chapels from the Birmingham Post, Mail, Sunday Mercury and Midlands Weekly Media, it said in a release.
“The big newspaper companies are following a policy of slash and burn – and the people who work there have had enough,” said Chris Morley, NUJ Northern organiser and a former father of the Post and Mail chapel.
“Trinity Mirror would rather close titles than put them up for sale – giving them the chance to survive under another owner.
“The Walsall Observer used to sell more than 30,000 copies a week. It is a much-loved local institution.”
NUJ members at the Birmingham titles are currently balloting for action, following the announcement of job cuts and closure of weekly titles.
The chapels sent this letter to Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey:
Dear Ms Bailey,
The Birmingham and Midlands NUJ Chapels find ourselves in dispute with the company over cuts and redundancies.
Regretfully the unanimous view of members is that while some difficulties are expected in a recession, the successive assaults on this business goes way beyond that and in fact continue a trend of cutbacks which began long before the economic downturn.
Therefore the BPM Media and Midlands Weekly Media chapels have unanimously backed a proposal from the floor for a vote of no confidence in Trinity Mirror’s management of its regional titles.
The motion, which will be issued to the newspaper trade media, states:
“Journalists, already having recently suffered a major round of redundancies. massive structural change and being the testing ground for new, unproven IT systems, have responded to these greater workloads and longer hours, with professionalism and much good will to ensure deadlines are met and quality is maintained.
“This has been thrown back in their faces and they have been betrayed by a management with a single aim – the pursuit of short term profit through cost reduction, asset sale and redundancy. This one-trick pony has no plan for the future and no concept of how to grow the local news, advertising and publishing business.
“Under this management we fear that within a few years there will be no Birmingham Post, Mail, Mercury and weeklies. Titles which have served communities and made profits for decades in the face of recession, depression, war, the advent of radio, television and recently the internet, are either being closed now or are in immediate danger if the present policy of cut, cut, cut continues.
“The company has accused the union of ignoring the disputes procedure in immediately calling a ballot for industrial action in the face of these cuts. However, the company broke its agreements with the recognised unions in imposing a pay freeze without negotiation or consultation at the start of this year.
“We believe closing titles such as the Walsall Observer, which has been published for more than 150 years, and proposals we believe are being considered to cut publication of the Birmingham Post and stop same day publication of the Birmingham Mail are reckless and negligent as it sends out the message that this company is failing and will scare advertisers away.”
At the weekend the FT reported that Birmingham Post might cease daily publication after 152 years, ‘becoming the first flagship newspaper of a large city to go weekly in response to the recession and competition from online media.’
“The circulation of the Birmingham Post has dropped from 18,500 to 12,700 since 2000, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Locally, a fully paid circulation of less than 7,000 is spoken of. It is understood that options studied by Trinity Mirror, which owns the white-collar morning title, include converting the lossmaking publication into a weekly title. The media group might publish the Birmingham Mail, an evening newspaper with a blue-collar readership, in the mornings instead. This would trigger wide-ranging redundancies, from delivery drivers to newsagents and journalists in a newsroom that services several titles.”
“I knew that sales were poor, but I didn’t realise that paid-for copies had dropped to fewer than 7,000 – a claim made by the FT and stood up by my own sources this morning. (Just what you want on the golf course early on a Sunday - a call from Mr Cardigan suggesting that you’re about to lose your job.”
Did this allow the rest of the ‘pack’ to steal in on the Mail’s ‘exclusive’?
Mail editor Steve Dyson helpfully explains the editorial decisions behind breaking the story in this way:
“My thoughts at 7am conference when I realised the strength of what we had was to refuse any access to the letter for as long as possible. Tease it online and boost sales (…) The unexpected boost was Setanta, PA, Five Live, Sky Sports and TalkSport all calling us to beg for the letter and, upon understanding why we were saying ‘no’ for print sales, offering interviews with the editor and/or the Villa writer with ‘excerpts’ read out from the letter, and listeners/viewers told they could only read the full version in that night’s paper.”
Dyson says he believes the additional publicity was generated by not realising the letter in full immediately.
His comments are well worth a read – it’s also refreshing to see an editor interact so candidly on another blog on the editorial process.
David Higgerson, Trinity Mirror’s head of multimedia, also joined in the discussion, raising a couple of points about the publication schedule of the letter and whether this impacted on traffic:
“Did we lose out by delaying publication online? We’ll never know. My gut instinct is that yes, we probably did miss a bit of traffic online but the reaction when we put it online was so great that I’ve taken it as proof that if people know the original source of information online, they’ll flock to it.
“Interestingly, the article which contained the letter had a real surge around 4pm [the time the Mail originally said it would publish the letter in full], suggesting people responded to us saying what time it would appear online. Had they read it elsewhere before? Perhaps. It’s still very well read at the moment, along with Bill Howell’s analysis.”
As witnessed by the comments on Geary’s post, finding the balance between the news demands of print and online is still up for debate. Is there a best practice for handling this kind of story – or should it be judged on a story-by-story basis?
Since I started using Twitter I’ve always been amazed (and grateful) at how quickly calls for technological help and assistance with ideas and projects are answered. It’s one of the main reasons I’m a fan of Twitter.
There are plenty of media/journalist Twitter databases out there, but below are the beginnings of a list of digital editors on Twitter.
What do I mean by digital editor? In this instance, a journalist working primarily online, on web projects or co-ordinating multimedia output. The web editor of a newspaper site or magazine site, for example. It’s in no particular order, except for being divided by ‘traditional’ industry sectors at the moment, but if this isn’t useful, just let us know – would be great to get more international representatives too.
But the criteria for inclusion on the list are intentionally loose – this is aimed at networking, problem-solving and idea sharing between journalists working in the same space and similar roles. (Feel free to nominate any additions or drop us a tweet @journalismnews)
Well, we could have brought you ‘Flocking Around the Twitmas Tree’, ‘We Three Nings’ or just a straightforward end of the year list (if only to add to our list of lists), but instead we chose this: your sing-along treat to round-up 2008 is the ‘Twelve Days of Online Media Christmas’ (hyperlinked to relevant stories, but bear in mind it’s a selection of picks and not comprehensive…).
On the first day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … An editor in a law court
… Nine strikers strikin’, Eight maps a-plotting, Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!
On the eleventh day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Eleven papers packing
… Ten blogs a-blooming, Nine strikers strikin’, Eight maps a-plotting, Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!
On the twelfth day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Twelve sites a-starting
… Eleven papers packing, Ten blogs a-blooming, Nine strikers strikin’, Eight maps a-plotting, Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks and an editor in a law court!
A similar hub will be developed to produce content for its Coventry-based titles, while a regional production unit will oversee the multimedia desks’ work.
In addition a new work process of ‘content creation, multimedia desk, page finishing’ will be implemented.
Yesterday Trinity Mirror said the changes would require ‘substantially fewer journalists’ and the publisher has entered into a consultation process with the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
“Whatever the company may claim, you simply can’t take dozens of journalists out of your local operations and continue to report news to the same standard. Bosses at the company are sacrificing quality journalism to appease the short-term whims of the financial markets,” said Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, in response to yesterday’s announcement.