The editor of the Daily Mirror warned her staff there was a “terrible risk” of it becoming a “big grey mush” with the Express and Star newspapers after Reach (then Trinity Mirror) bought the titles last year.
Alison Phillips revealed today she helped to draw up protocols that the editors of all the papers now “live by” to set boundaries regarding what content they can and can’t share.
Reach acquired the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star on Sunday in February 2018 in a £127m deal with Richard Desmond.
The publisher continues to publish the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People plus its portfolio of local and regional titles.
Phillips told the Society of Editors conference in London today: “When Reach took on the Express and the Star I said to the Mirror team ‘we’ve got to protect and promote the Mirror brand, more so than we ever have done at any point in its history’.”
Phillips added: “There’s a terrible risk those brands become blurred and it’s a big grey mush and that would be the worst possible outcome for any of the newsbrands.”
Sport and non-exclusive “news of the day” stories are two sections where stories are now often shared between the titles.
Giving the example of court copy, Phillips said: “There doesn’t seem to be any logical reason why we can’t share that content if it enables us to focus what resources we have got onto the things that define the Mirror.”
Some exclusives and campaigns are shared but the rules on these are also made clear – including where a Mirror front page exclusive might be able to go in another paper.
“I go round with a big stick enforcing [the rules] if they don’t want to at the Express and Star,” Phillips said.
But readers are generally not aware that any of this content might have originated from another paper’s editorial team, she added, because they are unlikely to switch between them.
“A Mirror reader is a Mirror reader and an Express reader is an Express reader.”
Phillips added: “I can’t think of a single letter that we’ve had or email or phone call from a reader complaining about our involvement with the Express.”
More than 100 jobs have been put at risk since Reach bought the Express and Star, as a result of sharing content and resources between the three titles.
Departments affected have included sport, fashion, supplements, picture desks, and TV listings.
An internal content feed serving each of titles now provides shared coverage of non-exclusive events of the day and back-of-the-book content like book and film reviews.