Sly Bailey rails against 'dinosaurs' who predict death of print

Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey has railed against “dinosaur-like media commentators” who have predicted the death of newspapers, and said there is still “a market for well-targeted print launches”.

In an analysts’ presentation, Bailey said Trinity Mirror was “better positioned than ever” and announced plans to hire a further 100 staff this year to work on new digital publishing projects.

“If you listen to the industry’s armchair critics and dinosaur-like media commentators, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s all over for newspapers,” she said this morning. “But it’s been an encouraging year which demonstrates the power and possibilities of print.”

Bailey pointed to Trinity Mirror’s experimental ultra-local websites in the north-east of England – and the ultra-local newspapers created from them – as “a real success story”.

“We’ve devised what we believe is an attractive low cost digital publishing model,” she said. “Our goal is to substantially increase digital revenues in the next two years.”

The company is set to hire around 100 staff this year to work in digital. Bailey said that although most of these jobs would be in sales, there would also be a number of editorial and production vacancies.

“We’re taking a number of steps to streamline, modernise and future-proof the business,” she said. “We have a clear strategy in place and we intend 2008 to be another year of progress. Our portfolio is better positioned than ever.”

Trinity Mirror this week unveiled a pilot scheme to measure the online-only reach of its regional newspaper websites, only counting readers who do not read the printed paper as well.

Bailey said field work was underway to test the measurement scheme on Trinity’s national websites, with provisional results expected in the summer.

Despite stable revenues and a 4.6 per cent fall in profits, she praised the company’s regionals division, which she said was showing “good progress”.

The Liverpool Post’s part-paid, part-free strategy had led to improved advertising revenue and an increasing appeal to young readers, she said.

And she hinted that the group’s multimedia newsroom pilot scheme in Wales could be rolled out elsewhere if successful, adding: “Our journalists are working for the first time not by title but by content subject matter.”

Shares in Trinity Mirror fell six per cent this morning, down 18.25p to 303p at 10am. The regional newspaper circulation figures for the last half of 2007 are published today at noon.

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