Stay of execution at Mirror as 40 staff face redundancy

Axing Daily Mirror district men seen as thin edge of the wedge as ‘chaotic’ Trinity Mirror cuts are postponed

By Dominic Ponsford

A
Friday the 13th bloodbath was delayed this week as Trinity Mirror
extended the final deadline for consultation on redundancies at the
company’s national titles by a week.

Insiders believe around 40
journalists are to go in total from the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and
People. And due to a shortfall in volunteers, some compulsory
redundancies are expected to be necessary with the axe likely to fall,
according to one source, at the Sunday Mirror.

The latest news on
the drastic cuts at the Scottish Daily Mirror is that 22 journalists
there are to lose their jobs. Out of the 30 employed there, three are
going to new positions, one is remaining as a sports reporter and four
are transferring to London.

Elsewhere at the Daily Mirror –
district reporters covering Nottingham, North Wales and the West
Country are taking redundancy. West Country correspondent Geoff Lakeman
is the Daily Mirror’s longest-serving reporter (see below).

A photographer working out of Manchester is also going and three out of the five newsroom secretaries have been made redundant.

The
only redundancy so far in the Mirror’s London newsroom is veteran group
political editor David Seymour who has been asked to go as part of the
current round of cutbacks.

He was expected to leave his office this week.

One senior insider said: “Running down journalism and the number of journalists is the thin end of the wedge.

It’s
the first time they’ve looked at cutting back the districts. That’s
dangerous because that’s where you get a lot of your stories from.”

Another
Mirror journalist described the redundancies process as “chaotic”.
Speaking earlier this week, they said: “Nobody’s got a clue what’s
going on, apart from the fact I was told everybody was leaving at the
end of this week. It’s a completely chaotic situation.

“When I asked Human Resources what does that mean, they said that’s when people go.”

The
sacking of two staff from the postroom has led to bad feeling among
journalists. One redundancy is understood to have been called for in
the postroom and Press Gazette has learned that after no-one came
forward, two staff were sacked following allegations over missing
bottles of wine. A well-known postroom manager with 30 years service is
understood to be among those being sacked.

According to one
insider, morale in the Daily Mirror newsroom is low and several younger
reporters have moved on in recent weeks including: Justine Smith to go
backpacking, Megan Lloyd Davies to write a book, and Alex Williams.

Trainee
Daniel Boffey has also left to join the Mail on Sunday and deputy news
editor James Mellor has joined the Sunday Telegraph. It is understood
that all these vacancies will be filled.

It is believed that up to ten redundancies are to be made at the Sunday Mirror as part of the current round of cuts.

Geoff Lakeman calls it a day after 28 years
MOST EXPERIENCED MIRROR MAN TAKES REDUNDANCY

After
surviving 15 news editors, Robert Maxwell and David Montgomery, the
Mirror’s longest-serving reporter, Geoff Lakeman, has decided to take
redundancy as part of the current round of cutbacks.

Based in the
tiny Dartmoor village of Buckland Monachorum, Lakeman, 58, has covered
the West Country for 28 years for the Daily Mirror. And before that he
covered the same patch for the Daily Telegraph.

He said: “I
volunteered because I intend to freelance, covering Cornwall and
Devon.I’ve had a roller-coaster ride on the Mirror for nearly three
decades but this is too good an opportunity to miss, and is an exciting
challenge.”

Lakeman’s Mirror career has included covering the
Penlee Lifeboat Disaster of 1981 when 16 died, the Boscastle flooding,
half a dozen general elections, the Falklands War and both Gulf
conflicts.

He said: “I have written-up more murders, rapes, robberies, maritime sinkings and trans-Atlantic stories than I can recall.”

Among
his more unusual assignments was to carry out a citizen’s arrest on
Royal loverat Major James Hewitt. He said: “Hewitt was not impressed,
told me to ‘Bugger off’ and promptly drove over my photographer’s foot!”

Lakeman
began his career as a £4-a-week cub reporter at 16 on The Cornishman
weekly, in his home town of Penzance. He later helped launch LBC, the
UK’s first commercial radio station and was the first-ever reporter for
Independent Radio News. While lecturing the Mirror’s graduate training
scheme in Plymouth he “discovered” Number Ten spin doctor, Alastair
Campbell, who remains a close friend.

Lakeman plans to continue covering the West Country as a freelance operating out of his Dartmoor home.

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