Outsiders will look at yesterday’s news of 200 job cuts at the Mirror titles and see a newspaper business on its last legs.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The national newspapers division of Trinity Mirror is in good financial shape. In 2009, in the midst of the worst media recession in history, the division returned operating profit of £83.6m on revenue down 3.2 per cent to £460.4m.
Cutting one third of the staff in the engine room that drives that profit smacks of short-termism.
Trinity says it is investing heavily, £3m according to some reports, in a new content management system – as if this will somehow replace the content-generators, the journalists.
I’ve heard that Contentwatch is a good system, and this comment is not aimed at it, but there are a lot of snake-oil salesmen in the content management system business who will tell publishers that their method of pushing around words and pictures somehow magically does away with the need to employ so many journalists.
This is pure folly. Improving the technical plumbing can never replace the journalists who find great stories and then make them sing online and in print.
Press Gazette more than anyone knows that journalists have to embrace rapid change if they are to survive in today’s media world. But it is difficult to understand why such terribly disruptive, dramatic and potentially damaging cuts are needed on newspapers that actually make good profits (unlike many national press titles).