Journalists at Leicester Mercury in bid to withdraw from awards in protest at cuts

A group of journalists at the Leicester Mercury have asked that their title be withdrawn from contention from a national awards event in protest at cuts to photographers.

The move by members of the National Union of Journalists follows the axing of four out of six staff photographers on the daily title, which is part of the Local World group  bought by Trinity Mirror last November.

The title was named regional daily newspaper of the year at last year's News Awards, for newspaper printing. This year they have been nominated again in the same category.

In a letter to the Leicester Mercury NUJ chapel said: "We were equally proud our work has again been recognised with a further nomination for 2016.

"However, since the latest nomination, the management of the Leicester Mercury has done considerable harm to our ability to produce a quality product and focus on the community by making two-thirds of our multi award-winning photographic team redundant.

"High-quality photographs are an essential component of the style and content of the Mercury  and despite the excellence of the skeleton photographic team that will remain, it is inevitable that standards of the print product will decline as use of file pictures and amateur contributions increases.

"We believe our continued nomination would not reflect the awards’ commitment to the highest standards in print journalism. It would also send the wrong message to managers who have already eroded the design and integrity of the paper you praised last year through the increased use of generic features content produced elsewhere."

NUJ Northern and  Midlands organiser Chris Morley said: "Our members are bitterly disappointed they have to take this step to highlight the damage being done to their award-winning title.

"They are standing up for quality journalism – it's a pity the company is prepared to take such risks with a title long associated with journalistic excellence.

"No one is fooled that squandering the pool of high grade staff news photographers at the Mercury will not be missed or noticed. The sudden departure of the editor and looming reorganisation in this newsroom are also worrying signs for this proud newspaper."

Last week Leicester Mercury editor Kevin Booth revealed he was stepping down after 18 months for personal reasons. His is pictured picking up last year's prize at the News Awards.

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