Tag Archives: Mark Dodson

GMG sells regional media business to Trinity Mirror for £44.8m

Months of speculation about the future of Guardian Media Group’s regional media business is over – the group has announced today it will sell GMG Regionals to Trinity Mirror for a total consideration of £44.8 million.

Within the regionals group MEN Media publishes 22 titles in the north west of England, including the flagship Manchester Evening News; while S&B Media publishes 10 titles in the south of England, including the Surrey Advertiser and Reading Post. Both will go to Trinity Mirror.

Manchester-based TV station Channel M and GMG Regionals Woking titles will not be part of the deal, which is expected to complete by 28 March.

The deal also sees departures for GMG Regionals chief executive Mark Dodson and MEN Media chief executive Ruth Spratt. More significantly it marks the sale of the Guardian’s Manchester roots, as the paper was started in the city on 5 May 1821.

More to follow from Journalism.co.uk.

GMG Regional Media chief exec confirms talks without naming Trinity Mirror

This morning, we picked up news that Guardian Media Group was reported to be in talks with Trinity Mirror, over a possible sale of GMG Regional Media, which includes flagship title, the Manchester Evening News.

GMG Regional Media CEO, Mark Dodson, issued a statement to staff this morning in which he acknowledged talks with an unnamed party, but did not confirm Trinity Mirror’s involvement.

A statement is expected to be released to the media later today.

A MEN media staff member said: “If the rumours are true, then this is a huge blow for staff at the Manchester Evening News and the weekly titles.

“Staff have only just got over a series of redundancies, with more than 70 people losing their jobs.

“This is just another kick in the teeth for hard-working staff who have seen the Guardian bleed the regional titles dry over the last few years.

“The worst thing is that no-one has communicated with staff – we had to find out through How-Do, and although no-one has confirmed it is true, they are not denying it either.”

Another insider said: “A potential sale of the MEN / GMG Regional to Trinity Mirror has been the subject of much speculation for the best part of this year, if not before.”

Update: GMG has issued the following statement, which does not confirm the name of any parties:

“In line with its remit GMG keeps its portfolio under review on an ongoing basis.

“Since the publication of the Digital Britain report we have been considering the potential for further consolidation within the regional press sector, and as part of this there have been some exploratory talks regarding our regional media business.

“However these are at a very early stage and it is not clear whether they will progress or what the outcome is likely to be.”

Trinity Mirror declined to comment.

Motions from Manchester: “This chapel declares it has no confidence in the Scott Trust”

The Manchester Evening News National Union of Journalists Chapel has passed the following motions at a mandatory meeting held today, and sent this email to GMG Regional chief executive, Mark Dodson.

To: Mark Dodson
Cc: Paul Horrocks; Jim Banham; Carolyn McCall; Liz Forgan
Subject: MEN NUJ chapel resolutions

Dear Mark,

At a very well attended, mandatory meeting earlier today, the MEN NUJ chapel unanimously passed the following resolutions:

  • This chapel extends its thanks to the Guardian/Observer chapels for their declared support;
  • This chapel deplores the company’s refusal to invoke a 90-day consultation period which could have been used usefully to explore other options and urges it to think again;
  • This chapel declares it has no confidence in the Scott Trust or the GMG board;
  • This chapel believes that Dame Liz Forgan, in her role as chair of the Scott Trust, has a moral duty and responsibility to speak to journalists at the MEN and its weekly newspapers and those at Surrey and Berkshire about how these devastating jobs cuts chime with Trust values BEFORE they are implemented;
  • This chapel supports the weekly newspaper chapels in their decisions and pledges to support them;
  • This chapel agrees to ballot for industrial action, up to and including strike action;
  • This chapel reiterates its willingness to meet management at any time to talk with a view to resolving the current problems.

Letter to GMG Regional Media’s Mark Dodson from MEN NUJ chapel

A letter from the Manchester Evening News National Union of Journalists chapel to GMG Regional Media chief executive, Mark Dodson, following yesterday’s announcements.

Dear Mark,

At a lengthy and very well-attended MEN NUJ Chapel meeting earlier today, members unanimously passed the following:

“The Chapel utterly condemns this week’s announcements of sweeping job at the MEN, our Greater Manchester weekly newspapers and the
group’s  publications in Surrey and Berkshire and believes they  will have a devastating effect on local democracy and regional journalism.

We also condemn the redundancies inflicted on other sectors of our business.

The Chapel rejects absolutely any compulsory journalistic redundancies, which are especially unpalatable at a time when the organisation is still making a profit. The total number of proposed redundancies is unjustifiable and unsustainable. We demand an early explanation of how you envisage a future MEN/weeklies newsroom will work.

Management should be under no illusion that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our colleagues. We will be meeting again shortly to discuss our next steps.

However, since it is clear that these executive decisions have been demanded by the GMG board and sanctioned by the Scott Trust, we request that Dame Liz Forgan and her fellow trustees come to Manchester as soon as possible to speak to us.”

Major MEN changes ‘are designed to protect the business and its journalism for the future,’ says GMG Regional Media statement

Following the news that 150 jobs – 78 of those journalists’ – will be cut in GMG Regional Media, this statement has been released from the group:

“MEN Media, publisher of the Manchester Evening News and weekly titles across Greater Manchester, has today briefed staff on a range of proposed changes to the business.

“The local and regional press is facing the worst conditions in living memory as the economic downturn exacerbates and accelerates longer-term structural changes in the behaviour of advertisers and readers.

“The viability of local and regional titles is under threat due to steeply falling revenues that we do not expect to return to previous levels even when economic conditions improve. Publishers therefore need to find a sustainable new model if they are to survive.

“The major changes announced at MEN Media today are designed to protect the business and its journalism for the future through a new model with significantly lower fixed costs.

“By far the largest cost within the business is salaries, and while we have examined every option short of job losses, it has become clear that it is impossible to bring stability to MEN Media without substantially reducing the number of people we employ. We expect approximately 150 positions to be made redundant across MEN Media.

“While we will seek volunteers for redundancy wherever possible, we anticipate that compulsory redundancies will be unavoidable. Those people affected will be offered significantly enhanced severance terms.

“MEN Media has reviewed all aspects of its business. In addition to salaries, we have targeted various other costs and looked at how we can
improve in areas such as advertising sales, working practices and editorial systems.

“The proposed changes announced today are summarised below:

  • Approximately 150 positions across all functions and disciplines to be made redundant within MEN Media. This includes 78 journalists across 23 titles.
  • One consolidated editorial team for the MEN and weeklies at Scott Place in Manchester, working across MEN Media’s various titles and websites.
  • All branch offices apart from Stockport will be closed in the coming months. Offices in Accrington, Ashton, Macclesfield, Oldham, Rochdale, Rossendale, Salford and Wilmslow will be closed.
  • Reporters will continue to work their patches, but no longer from a local office. There will be increased remote working to support this.
  • Investment in a new editorial system common to all titles, and training for all users. The new system has improved web and multimedia capabilities, and will enable journalists to work across MEN Media’s different outlets.
  • New layout and design for weekly titles.
  • Central section of common pages for the weeklies, drawn from the MEN’s leisure/entertainment content.
  • Greater sharing of content between the MEN and weekly titles.
  • A new house agreement to cover the new editorial department.
  • A revised pay schedule for journalists based on the current weeklies pay schedule. Journalists who are paid in excess of the schedule will have their pay ring-fenced and protected.
  • Fewer free copies of the MEN and weekly titles distributed.
  • Reduced pagination of the MEN.
  • Revamped advertising sales operation with greater focus on growing new business and selling multimedia solutions.
  • Better targeted advertising sales strategies, with improved use of customer data.”

Mark Dodson, chief executive of GMG Regional Media (parent company of MEN Media), said:

“MEN Media’s role is to produce great journalism for our readers, users and viewers in Greater Manchester. If we want to continue to be able to do this, we need to find a new, sustainable, lower-cost business model to support it. The economic viability of local and regional newspapers is under very real and imminent threat.

“The decision about job losses has been a very difficult one to make, and I deeply regret that it has been necessary. Nonetheless, I do believe this is the right decision for MEN Media’s future and for the majority of staff who will remain with the company.

“There is a successful future for local and regional journalism in the commercial sector, but we need to protect our businesses now to give ourselves the best chance of reaching it.

“This is a worrying time for everyone working in the local and regional press. Some argue that our industry has no future. I think this is completely wrong – people still want local and regional journalism, and advertisers want to reach those people.”