Trinity Mirror’s decision to close the Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle series has been branded a “tragedy” as residents bemoan the loss of the London borough’s only dedicated newspaper.
The free newspaper has served the borough, which has a population of 150,000, for more than 125 years and its closure could result in 15 redundancies, including of ten editorial jobs.
Its website, getwestlondon.co.uk, also works alongside Trinity Mirror newspapers serving Ealing, Harrow, Uxbridge and Hounslow and it has not yet been decided whether it will continue to run Hammersmith and Fulham stories.
Mark Loveday, a Conservative councillor for the borough, told Press Gazette: “It is a tragedy.
“It is a tragedy that we are going to see the loss of these journalists’ jobs and other jobs.
“The borough is going to be left as one of the few areas in the country without a dedicated local press.”
He said that although the paper’s circulation had been falling in recent years – from more than 100,000 in 2010 to 45,490 last year, according to ABC, despite becoming free – the move by Trinity Mirror was “unexpected”.
He revealed that, since the newspaper successfully campaigned for the council’s free newspaper H&F News to be axed, it earned £80,000 a year through council advertising.
Loveday said that the council will now have to advertise in other newspapers distributed in the area, the Evening Standard or the Metro, but said this would be more expensive.
He added: “We would be very supportive of any other newspapers, any publisher who wanted to step into the void.”
Staff were told on Friday the paper’s sister titles – the Ealing Gazette, Harrow Observer, Uxbridge Gazette and Hounslow Chronicle – will remain in existence as well as their umbrella website, www.getwestlondon.co.uk.
But, according to the National Union of Journalists, three of the titles are to be switched from door-to-door distribution to free pick-up.
The Harrow Observer, which is the only paper with a local rival in the Harrow Times, will remain door-to-door.
“Following a recent review of the portfolio in West London it has become clear that some areas of the business have become unsustainable,” a Trinity Mirror spokesman said.
“As a result the company is proposing to close the Hammersmith and Fulham Chronicle Series. The final edition will be published on Friday 25 April.”
They added: “Once the lease expires at the Uxbridge premises the office function and staff will be relocated to the Watford site.
“The company will also support remote working and relocation to other Trinity Mirror Southern offices where practical.
“Regrettably, these proposals mean that 15 roles are now at risk of redundancy.”
Laura Davison, national organiser at the NUJ, said: “This announcement has come as a terrible shock to the hardworking staff of these titles. The speed of it means there is little time to look at meaningful alternatives to closure.
“Trinity Mirror should not simply be able to shut down these titles and lock them away after years of starving them of resources. It will leave some communities with no local paper, depriving them of a way to access information and hold local power to account.
"Readers and the Trinity Mirror journalists who serve them, deserve better.”
On Twitter, fellow journalists and residents reacted with sadness to news of the closure: