Trinity Mirror is set to create a new single, integrated multi-media newsroom for its Birmingham titles as part of a claimed £7.5m investment in new technology and working practices and premises.
But up to 65 editorial jobs could go as a result of the creation of the integrated newsroom. A 90-day consultation process has begun with staff.
Trinity is using new content management system ContentWatch to create a ‘streamlined’working process where reporters file to a centralised multimedia desk before stories are either uploaded straight to the web or prepared for the newspaper.
In move similar to Trinity’s reorganisation of its Cardiff newsroom last year, there will be a single production desk for Trinity’s Midlands titles overseeing content for the Birmingham Mail, Birmingham Post and Sunday Mercury. A similar system will be introduced for Trinity’s Coventry newsroom.
The Media Wales newsroom saw the merger of editorial teams for the Western Mail, South Wales Argus, Wales and Sunday and associated weekly titles.
Steve Dyson remains editor of the Birmingham Mail and will take on additional responsiblity for editing the Sunday Mercury (which was last year’s Newspaper Society Newspaper of the Year). From January, current Sunday Mercury editor Dave Brookes will become editor of the Coventry Telegraph after current Coventry Telegraph editor Alan Kirby retires.
Marc Reeves remains editor of the Birmingham Post.
Trinity also announced today that as a result of ‘difficult trading conditions’the company will seek to sell or close seven newspapers in the Midlands.
The titles up for sale or closure are: free titles the Long Eaton Trader, Northampton Herald & Post; the Wellingborough, Rushden, Kettering and Corby Herald & Post; the Market Harborough Herald & Post and Brackley & Towcester Herald & Post will shut and paid-for newspapers, the Long Eaton Advertiser and the Nu News.
Trinity Mirror regional managing director, Steve Brown, said: ‘Trinity Mirror Midlands aims to have two core publishing centres – one in Birmingham, one in Coventry – backed up by a network of stand-alone weekly newspapers capable of contributing profitably to regional performance.
‘The titles in Northampton and Long Eaton unfortunately do not meet this criteria and, regrettably, we have taken the decision to close them or to seek a sale.”
Trinity said in a statement: ‘Once implemented, the new editorial structure will require substantially fewer journalists and the company is entering into consultation with staff and their representatives regarding this. The aim is to try to achieve this reduction by purely voluntary means.”
The Birmingham reorganisation plan will see much greater integration between different titles – the company said that ‘while content origination will remain local”, page production will be centralised in keeping with new ‘multimedia principles”.
Neil Benson, editorial director, regionals, said: ‘The entire media landscape is changing at an unprecedented pace, which demands that we develop imaginative, new ways of producing content for our print titles and web sites.
‘The changes we are implementing in Trinity Mirror Midlands represent a pioneering new approach to publishing. They will enable multimedia journalists to contribute content to a broad range of titles and across a variety of platforms.
‘The additional skills acquired by our journalists and the benefits of the flexible new ways of working will further cement Trinity Mirror’s status as a multiplatform media group.’
Georgina Harvey, managing director, regionals, said: ‘We are continually seeking new ways to innovate and become more efficient and this new approach delivers on both requirements.
‘Introducing our groundbreaking editorial model, supported by state-of-the-art technology, keeps us one step ahead of the competition and represents a significant investment in our Midlands business.’