Tuesday, November 15

A Bleak Festive Season ahead for West Midlands Journalists

Yesterday Trinity Mirror announced 66 job losses and the immediate closure of three local papers, The Chase Post, The Stafford Post and the Sutton News, with more redundancies at the Birmingham Mail, Birmingham Post, Coventry Telegraph, Coventry Times and Hinckley Times.

Coventry Telegraph will be left with only one photographer, four at present, one general news and one sports posts will also go.

Hinkley Times, will have no photographer or full time reporters at all, copy will come from freelancer's.

A reliable source say that Trinity Mirror intend to further cut costs and posts by inviting the public to contribute stories to online editions, with a target of 40% of content in the next two years

Trinity Mirror also announced it would be changing work practices with the introduction of a Regional production hub and features unit. Which can only be interpreted as journalists working on several newsprint editions rather than one. When the hub is set up, staff will have to move to the hub or lose their jobs. There will be no more specialist reporters.

All in all, with these cuts and cuts in regional BBC staff, it is a pretty bleak picture for NUJ members in the region.

Above cuts will be discussed at the NUJ Branch Meeting on Tuesday 22nd November, Old Windmill pub, Spon Street, Coventry, CVl 3BA, start time 18:30 hrs.


Chris Morley NUJ Northern & Midlands Organiser, asked to comment on the proposed cuts said:

"The Birmingham Trinity Mirror chapel will be holding a meeting midday today, to discuss its reaction to yesterdays news - the timing of which I believe is deeply cynical.

"Trinity Mirror normally picks a Friday afternoon to make these announcements - the end of the working week so there would be little disruption even if people do get uppity. And of course the trade press is likely to miss it and even if they do pick up the story before they go, few journalists will ever give it their full attention when they are thinking of the weekend.

"This time of course it was a Monday afternoon when two major news stories in industry were well known in advance - the start of the Leveson enquiry and the Society of Editors' annual meeting. In other words, a good day for Trinity Mirror to bury their bad news.

"I think this sets the tone for what is an incredibly intellectually poverty-stricken scheme to make its Midlands operations pay its levy to the £25 million cuts demanded by Sly Bailey in July.

"The company has said this is to give the titles a "sustainable future". Of course we all remember them saying this in 2009, and 2008 before that, to justify the loss of more than 100 Trinity Mirror journalist jobs from the Midlands. But few people are going to swallow this line when grand old titles such as the Sutton Coldfield News are sacrificed.

"We must see the wider picture of the attack on journalism in the West Midlands and the need for the NUJ to link the job losses already carried out in the last three years, and those new cuts now planned to take place in just 30 days, to those that have already happened at Central News, the Wolverhampton Express & Star and all the commercial radio stations. We now especially have to ally the journalists at Trinity Mirror Midlands with their colleagues at the BBC where the other major axe is to fall on around 100 editorial posts in the region. This is not just about jobs (although that is uppermost in our focus) but also the sort of democratic community we want to live in.

The NUJ will support and fight for its members through this horrendous time but we have to be prepared to stand up now to show this nihilism is not the answer to current problems - and certainly is not the future for our profession.

We can make a start in convincing the public at the Birmingham & Coventry Branch open meeting 'Crisis in Midlands Journalism' from 6.30pm on Thursday, December 8 at Birmingham Council House. Let's make this a centrepiece for our resistance.

Chris Morley
Northern & Midlands Organiser
Birmingham & Coventry branch member

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