Why has Trinity Mirror lost so many editors?
To lose one editor can be considered a misfortune; to lose two begins to look like carelessness. But to lose a handful? What are we to make of that?
Neil Wallis is the latest – and the highest-profile – editor to walk away from Trinity Mirror in recent months. He joins a list of editing talent that includes Geoff Martin, Alison Hastings, Neil Fowler, Aaron Gransby and a number of other weekly editors who are no longer on the Trinity payroll.
Tellingly, Martin points out that this was one question nobody put to him when he left the chair of the Belfast News Letter to join the Ham & High last year.
That’s astonishing. Nobody at Trinity wanted to know why a highly respected editor of a hugely significant daily newspaper, at the height of his career, would opt for the upheaval of moving to a weekly paper – however influential that may be – hundreds of miles away.
Martin’s view is that he’s happier working for a company, in his case Archant, that has a commitment to invest in its journalists.
Presumably, that’s something he didn’t feel was happening at Trinity.
Which brings us to Wallis, whose departure from the editorship of The People last week was even more of a shock. Editors, as a rule, are more likely to be escorted screaming to the door by security than to wander out of their own volition. They do not covet the jobs of deputies – even on more successful titles. Imagine the manager of Chelsea walking out to become training coach at Manchester United.
But Wallis’s decision to become News of the World deputy appears to have been made largely because of his despair that The People was not getting the backing it needed. That he could only spend money on marketing if he got rid of journalists. That his bosses didn’t fully understand national newspapers.
All of which may only partly be true. Trinity’s line is that his departure is by no means painful, given The People’s sales. And all of those other departing editors had their own reasons for exiting stage left.
But when the perception is that good editors are choosing to work elsewhere, Trinity has a problem.
Sly Bailey takes over next month. She needs to act quickly to persuade her remaining editorial talent that all this bloodletting is not a haemorrhage.