BAJ: No justification for 'rape' of the MGN titles

The British Association of Journalists has accused Trinity Mirror of ‘ripping the heart’out of The Mirror, The Sunday Mirror, and The People with proposals to axe 200 journalists from the titles.

In a strongly-worded statement issued this morning, the union said there was no justification ‘for the rape of the MGN titles’and accused management of sacrificing the papers and journalists for short-term profits.

Trinity Mirror announced yesterday that jobs across the three titles would go as part of the adoption of a new multimedia newsroom similar to those introduced at its regional newspaper centres in Birmingham and Liverpool.

Press Gazette understands that around 60 casual staff are likely to be cut with the remaining 140 cuts coming from the staff – reducing its size by about a quarter from its current level of 554.

The introduction of a new content management system, ContentWatch, means that most of the cuts are likely to come from production departments, with some sub-editing outsourced to a partner organisation.

The news and features departments on each title will be merged into single content units, pooling reporters and writers. Digital and print publishing teams will also be merged and Scottish editions scrapped.

Trinity Mirror, which runs the papers through its Mirror Group Newspapers subsidiary, has started a 90-day consultation on its proposals and opened a voluntary redundancy scheme which will run until 9 July.

The BAJ Chapels of the three papers will hold an emergency meeting this afternoon on the editorial floor at their Canary Wharf headquarters to discuss a response.

“The 200 proposed redundancies amount to about 40 per cent of the editorial workforce on the three titles,’the statement from the BAJ said.

‘Management is ripping the heart out of proud newspapers to make more quick bucks out of the national titles. It is tragic. There is no justification for the rape of the MGN titles.”

The union said it believed MGN was likely to make an operating profit similar to that made in 2009, a figure which was achieved without any signifcant job losses during those 12 months. The BAJ said that MGN titles made £60m operating profit in 2009.

“MGN titles and their journalists are being sacrificed for short-term bigger profits with no thought for the future,’the union added.

“BAJ has been pointing out to the directors for a long time that they should copy the News International and Mail titles which employ more than twice as many journalists as MGN titles do and have circulations of two or three times that of MGN titles. But they are deaf to reality.

“The idea that first-class national newspaper subbing and page drawing can be maintained in some outsourced ‘factory’ shows how little Sly Bailey & Co understand about the demands of quality journalism.

“The proposed destruction of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People editorial teams is a crying shame.

“BAJ will be doing everything possible to try to avoid the redundancies, reduce the redundancies or mitigate the effect of the redundancies.”

A Trinity Mirror spokesman said: “It’s understandable that changes of this nature create anxiety. We are fully committed to consulting with all affected staff and their representatives on our proposals to see through this vital transition.”

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