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NUJ: More newspaper bosses should take pay cuts

February 10th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism

The National Union of Journalists has welcomed news that Guardian News and Media editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger has offered to take a pay cut – and the union has called on other newspaper bosses to do the same.

The Guardian reported that Rusbridger would take a 10 per cent voluntary cut in the 2012-13 financial year, from £438,900 to £395,010. His pension contribution will also be reduced.

NUJ deputy general secretary Barry Fitzpatrick said in a release:

“I welcome Alan’s response to the NUJ’s suggestion that he should take a pay cut and show a lead to executives within the industry at a time when many journalists face redundancy and pay freezes. I hope that others including Sly Bailey, chief executive of Trinity Mirror, and Richard Desmond owner of the Express newspapers, will now be following suit.”

Trinity Mirror investors have expressed concern about Bailey’s pay package, almost £1.7 million in 2010. The company’s share price has fallen by 87 per cent in the past decade.

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Daily Mirror publisher faces ‘three to four’ phone-hacking cases, says lawyer

Announcing the launch of an internal review of editorial controls and practices last week, Trinity Mirror, publisher of the Daily Mirror, was keen to stress that the review was not connected to recent phone-hacking allegations levelled against its tabloid.

The publisher issued a statement in response to the claims that the Mirror was implicated in the use of the so-called dark arts, calling them “totally unsubstantiated”.

But allegations concerning the paper have since mounted. Lawyer Mark Lewis, who has represented a number of celebrities in phone-hacking suits against News International, said in yesterday’s Sunday Times that the Mirror is facing “about three or four cases which will start within the next few weeks”.

Another report, in the Independent on Sunday, claims that “top investors” in Trinity Mirror, undoubtedly concerned by the steep share-price drop the company saw last week, “want to know more” and have quizzed chief executive Sly Bailey.

Former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, who was fired by Bailey in 2004, has come under scrutiny as the spotlight shifts from News International to Trinity Mirror, although he denies any knowledge of criminality at the Mirror during his time there. Conservative MP Louise Mensch was forced to apologise to Morgan in parliament last week, after incorrectly stating he had admitted being aware of phone hacking at the tabloid.

Citing evidence collected by the Information Commissioner’s Operation Motorman report, blogger Guido Fawkes has alleged that Morgan signed off on £442,000-worth of invoices submitted to the paper by a private detective. It is important to note, however, that the use of a private detective does not necessarily involve any criminality.

According to a report in yesterday’s (31 July) Sunday Telegraph, Trinity Mirror is planning to increase its cost-cutting target for the year from £15 million to £25 million, triggering further job losses.

The company is due to publish its annual financial results on 11 August.

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Trinity Mirror update: One weekly could be rescued at TM North West and Wales, while exec share row rumbles on

September 30th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Jobs, Newspapers

Two updates on Trinity Mirror stories to report:

  • The Whitchurch Herald could be saved despite last week’s announcement that it would be one of three weeklies in the North West and Wales division to close – if a buyer is found. ‘It has been postponed to enable owners Trinity Mirror North West and Wales to consider new approaches from parties interested in purchasing the newspaper title,’ said the company.
  • “There have been some developments in the last few days so we have decided to continue producing the Whitchurch Herald while discussions with interested parties take place. We will keep readers and advertisers informed of developments,” said Carl Wood, Trinity Mirror Cheshire publishing director.

  • Meanwhile, a dispute over Trinity Mirror executives’ share awards continues. Following last week’s announcement that two additional weekly newspaper titles are to close, with around 15 jobs threatened overall at Trinity Mirror subsidiary Media Wales – one division of TM North West and Wales – the NUJ questioned share ‘handouts’ to executives – worth over £800,000 in total, it claimed. But Trinity Mirror denied they were of any value.

We’ll go through this one point by point – please do get in touch with additional points to raise:

1. The NUJ claimed that share awards to directors had not been publicised when a pay freeze and bonus cut across the company – including directors – was announced in November 2008.

TM said it was not new information and it had always been publicly available online.

The NUJ now says: “The fact is that Trinity Mirror employees were not told directly at the time of the pay freeze about this additional remuneration. It was merely stated that the pay freeze applied to directors too.”

2. The NUJ challenged share awards made to Sly Bailey (chief executive) and Vijay Vaghela (finance director) in April 2009.

TM said the share awards ‘have no value’ at present and were provisionally granted until targets are met.

The NUJ now says: “We have not suggested that the directors have already received payment for the value of the shares. In the circumstances, we call on the directors to confirm that they will decline to accept any financial advantage from this share award.”

3. The NUJ also claimed that the three directors – Bailey, Vaghela and legal director Paul Vickers – exercised an option to ‘buy’ more shares on June 29 this year – for no purchase price, before selling them.

TM said: that the shares sold in June were part of the 2007 bonus, which had been deferred until now:

“[P]art of the bonus paid to senior managers is deferred for 12 months and paid in shares. It is the deferred shares from the 2007 bonus that have just been released.

“The only shares that were sold were those that the company required to be sold to pay the PAYE tax liabilities on the value of the shares. None of that money went to the directors and they still hold all the other shares released to them.”

The NUJ now says: “We call on the directors to return this part of their 2007 bonus as it was paid after the imposition of the pay freeze.”

Journalism.co.uk asked TM about the 2007 bonus arrangement: why are the directors required to sell these shares in this way?

“The release of shares is treated as a payment for tax purposes, and – like all other payments – the tax is deducted at the time the payment is made,” a spokesperson said.

And why was the share award system not publicised at the time of the pay freeze?

“All the information about the share award referred to in the NUJ’s press release was already in the public domain before the announcement about pay freezes in November 2008,” said the spokesperson.

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TM Birmingham chapels’ motion of no confidence

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.

At the weekend, the Financial Times reported that the Birmingham post might soon cease daily publication.

Here’s the statement in full.

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.”

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paidContent:UK: Round-up of Sly Bailey comments at Digital Britain summit

April 20th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Events, Newspapers

Trinity Mirror CEO Sly Bailey reiterated her thoughts about Google and newspapers at Friday’s Digital Britain summit in the UK.

“[U]nique users don’t pay wages,” stressed Bailey.

“We’ve been playing in to the hands of the very businesses that play so fast and loose with our content in the first place. We’ve become dependent on pats on the back from new kids on the block who tell us what the rules are.”

Full article at this link…

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FT.com: Freesheet model could be first to fail

March 18th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Once seen as the enemy of the paid-for newspaper, freesheets are not ‘in the frontline trenches of this war’, says Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey.

Their ad-based model makes them particularly vulnerable, says this article, which looks at the plight of free newspapers in Europe.

Full article at this link…

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Trinity Mirror pay freeze – Sly Bailey’s email to staff

November 19th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Jobs, Newspapers

Trinity Mirror has implemented a company-wide pay freeze affecting all staff (that’s journalists and non-journalists employed by the publisher).

Below is the email sent by chief executive Sly Bailey to staff:

Company Announcement

Please follow the link to see the letter being sent today to all staff.
19 November 2008

Dear Colleague

We have all seen the severe impact of the economic downturn reported in the media on a daily basis.  Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be any sign of an improvement for the foreseeable future and there are indications that it could get worse before it gets better.  What is clear is that the gravity of the challenge facing our business is unlike anything we have seen before.

As a consequence of this economic climate, all parts of Trinity Mirror have seen revenues come under severe pressure as advertisers have significantly reduced their spending.  In addition, our readers are also looking to curtail their spending with a consequential impact on our circulation revenues.

This in turn is affecting our financial performance, and in particular the cash generated by the business.  As previously communicated to you and the financial community, we anticipate that our profits will fall in 2008, with a further decline in 2009. Whilst we expect to remain profitable going forward, the fall in cash generated will adversely impact our ability to comfortably fund ongoing commitments such as interest payments on our borrowings, taxes, investment in our business (capital expenditure) and pension scheme funding.  To partially address the constraints on cash we have already cancelled the share buy back and have halved the 2008 interim dividend paid to shareholders. The final dividend will also be reviewed by the Board in February.

With our revenues considerably reduced, our priority has to be to safeguard the future of the Group.  To do this we have done much already to reduce costs in many ways.  So far this year, sadly, this has involved the announcement of almost 1200 job losses across the Group.  We have also had to announce the closure of 44 of our titles, 40 offices and our print plant in Liverpool. We do want to do all we can to minimise any further job losses.

I can also confirm now that our performance has been such that we will not be paying any bonuses relating to 2008. This goes for me; the Executive Committee and virtually all other managers.

Nevertheless we need to take further steps to protect the future of our businesses.  I have therefore decided not to hold a pay review for anyone in Trinity Mirror during 2009.  This will apply to me, the Board, all management and employees of the Group.

We all hope that the economic climate improves in 2009 and, whether it does or doesn’t, I know we will all perform to the best of our abilities. To recognise this, a special 2009-only incentive scheme will be introduced.

In January, once we have a clearer idea of trading going into 2009, the Board will agree a target for this scheme.  I can tell you that this target will be lower than the target set for profit sharing in previous years.  The scheme is designed so that it could pay up to £1,000 to each employee (before tax) and will apply to all employees across the Group (see note below). Further details of the scheme will be communicated to you in January.

I appreciate that the times we find ourselves in are some of the hardest in living memory.  I ask for your support so that we can manage our way through it and ensure the long term survival of our business.

Yours sincerely

Sly Bailey

Note:

All permanent staff will participate in the bonus scheme with the following exceptions:

Those not in receipt of contractual pay (i.e. casuals, or unauthorised absence).

Staff that have taken part in industrial action during 2009 will not be entitled to any payment.

In respect of starters and leavers:

New starters may participate and will receive payment on a prorate basis for full months’ service during 2009.

Employees who retire or leave under redundancy will receive payment on a pro rata basis for full month’s service during 2009.  This will still only be paid after auditors approval of the final results.

Staff who resign their employment before end February 2010 (the date of the scheme profit calculation) will not be entitled to any payout.

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Geo-what? Oh, it’s coming to the UK soon…

October 3rd, 2008 | 12 Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

This week saw the launch of a hyperlocal news map for the Liverpool Echo, as announced by Sly Bailey at the AOP Digital Publishing Summit (follow link for report in MediaGuardian).

It geotags news content so each user can search for news by postcode.

Nothing new there, web-savvy newshounds might think, but actually it is:

Though Archant announced plans for geotagged sites last October (it started with Jobs24 – a winner at yesterday’s NS ADM Awards – and Homes24 and has plans to roll out geotagged news content in 2008) to date we’re still waiting for the official launch of geotagged news.

Yesterday we reported that American site outside.in will be launching in the UK, which will link news with local areas (as localised as users specify). Outside.in thinks its opportunity has come about as a result of:

“The demand for personalized information on the web, and the failure of the newspaper industry to capitalize on featuring hyperlocal content” (Nina Grigoriev, outside.in)

Journalism.co.uk thought it was time for a bit of a run-down on the development of geotagging in the UK.

First, what is it?
Journalists record the locations referred to in each story and add their postcodes as metadata when uploading their copy to the web.

In that way, geotagged content allows users to prioritise the news they see online according to postcodes.

Where are we at in the UK?
The Liverpool Echo is the first site (of the large publishing groups) to do so in the UK. Although other sites have incorporated mapping into their sites, no other places has successfully incorporated news content as well.

The BBC plans to invest £68 million across its network of local sites, which will be decided upon by the BBC Trust in February 2009. Online Journalism Blog reported a sneak preview in January 2008, though the BBC have since asked us not to refer to the sites as ‘hyperlocal’.

Critics such as Trinity Mirror’s CEO, Sly Bailey, have voiced concerns over the BBC’s local video proposals, saying they will provide ‘unfair competition’ for the regional media.

Northcliffe is also developing geotagged content on its revamped thisis sites, and told Press Gazette in June the process has been difficult: “Because not all stories affect only one specific point, the company is finding geocoding challenging,” Hardie said.

According to the article: “The localisation functions will remain hidden until journalists have built up enough stories with postcode data.”

Back in July 2007 we saw reports of Sky geotagging its news, but it hasn’t developed at the same speed or as widely as in the US.

What’s happening in the US?
Everyblock is developing fast across the US. It’s a new experiment in journalism and data, offering feeds of local information and data for every city block in Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC, with more cities to come. Not in the UK yet, but watch this space.

Elsewhere, the Washington Post has used outside.in’s maps for their own site, while the New York Times’ Boston.com (the online Boston Globe) uses MetaCarta’s geographic search technology for maps.

So, what does this mean for UK based geotagging?
With the arrival of highly efficient US based sites such as outside.in (who said an UK based office is a possibility) maybe it’s time for Archant, Trinity Mirror and Northcliffe to get their skates on before it’s too late.

Please send us your examples of UK based geotagged content, from formal publications or otherwise, as we want to track it as it expands in the UK.

(Then we can make a geotagged feed and map of geotagging in journalism. Then our heads might explode)

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AOP: ‘This is no time for vanity publishing’ – full audio of Sly Bailey’s speech

October 2nd, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events, Newspapers

In her opening speech at yesterday’s Association of Online Publishers (AOP) Digital Publishing Summit, Trinity Mirror CEO Sly Bailey called on publishers to integrate digital plans into their businesses, without relying solely on the anticipated growth in digital revenues to bring future success.

Here’s her speech in full:

[audio:http://www.journalism.co.uk/sounds/SlyBailey.mp3] Tags: , , , , , ,

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