MEN chief warns 35 jobs are in jeopardy as profits plunge

By Sarah Lagan

The Manchester Evening News is proposing to axe 22 per cent of its
journalists after staff were told profits were expected to plunge 42
per cent on last year.

Up to 35 posts could be made redundant, 27 in editorial. Guardian
Media Group regional chief executive Mark Dodson announced to staff on
Wednesday there would be more reliance on freelance writers and casual
staff.

He said the company was considering relying solely on freelance photographers.

There
are six staff photographers working on the paper. It is proposed that
the news and features subbing departments are to be merged.

Dodson
said recruitment advertisement revenue was down 19.5 per cent at the
MEN and predicted next year’s profits would be down 42 per cent. GMG
Regional reported profits of £32.6m last year. Circulation of the MEN
was down 2.6 per cent in the last ABCs.

Voluntary redundancy would be offered, Dodson said, but he could not rule out compulsory job losses.

The union said it may ballot for industrial action in the case of compulsory redundancies.

The
news comes just two months after the GMG closed the 22-year-old local
entertainments magazine City Life, which resulted in the loss of seven
journalists’ jobs.

MEN mother of chapel Rachel Broady said: “The
atmosphere here has been one of absolute misery since we saw our
colleagues leave from City Life, and it’s turning to one of defiance.”

The company is reviewing whether or not to close the recently launched V Magazine, aimed at the mature market.

It is hoping any cuts will be completed by 3 March.

MEN editor Paul Horrocks said the company would consider redeploying staff elsewhere in the company.

He
told Press Gazette: “Job losses are never good news. What we have to do
is ensure the quality of the MEN and its compelling content is
maintained and we are going to carry out a review of the edition
structure.

“We have to look at what we can achieve with fewer
journalists, but this has been forced upon us by a dramatic downturn in
income streams and unfortunately is being mirrored across the regional
newspaper industry.

“We have not only got to retain the integrity
of the MEN, but also to make sure that our content can be supplied into
other media platforms that we own, like the web and Channel M
Television.

“We have been practising convergence.

It is
ensuring the journalists are still in the engine room but transferring
their content into other platforms as well as print.”

Horrocks
added: “I think this is the way forward. Print has suffered and we have
seen the difficulty in maintaining circulations. But compelling content
should be spread into digital formats, online and maybe a city TV
channel to capture the classified advertising that’s been taken away
from us.

“The media landscape’s changed and we’ve got to react to it.”

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