Weeklies relaunch, but jobs are not safe

MEN Media is to relaunch all 20 of its weekly newspapers and accompanying websites as part of a wholesale structural review which will lead to across-theboard redundancies.

The Guardian Media Group-owned company has said its digital platforms need to be improved as print revenues increasingly migrate online.

MEN Media chief executive Mark Dodson (pictured right) said the company faced the task of balancing reducing costs and investing in the future.

Over the past two years the company, which publishes the Manchester Evening News, the Metro, 20 weekly papers and their websites, and broadcasts Channel M, has made significant savings which resulted in widespread redundancies.

At the same time it has invested heavily in the convergence of its newsroom and launching its part-paid, partfree strategy at the MEN.

Along with the plans to redesign all the weekly titles, these developments have contributed to the need to reduce more costs, said Dodson.

He told Press Gazette: “We’ve saved millions of pounds in the past two years.

We’re trying to maintain the tricky balance of reducing costs and investing in the future. We invested massively in our part-paid, part-free strategy and are investing heavily in redesigning our weekly papers and websites. It’s a case of pruning in one area and investing in the other. Where some companies are just cutting back we are trying to do both.

It’s like walking a tight rope.”

The relaunches of the group’s weekly newspapers and websites are to be complete this year.

Dodson said: “We are making sure we improve the technology and the content in each of those areas. We are treating these businesses as nascent and we need to drive as much traffic through them as we can.

“Channel M is absorbing some of the classified revenues and we need to have a suite of websites which are also able to absorb some of that migration.”

Last week volunteers for redundancy were called for across the company. The deadline for applications is 8 May.

Dodson said compulsory redundancies could not be ruled out but he would not be drawn on how many editorial positions could be at risk.

Staff have also been offered a belowinflation pay rise of 2.5 per cent.

NUJ MoC Judy Gordon said the chapel is yet to meet with management.

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