Wednesday, 11 March 2009

A tale of two cities: From new media in London to old media in Manchester in 30 minutes

I had a somewhat surreal day working for Press Gazette yesterday which took me from the brave new media world to the reality of what is facing regional newspapers, all within the same company.
It started with a breakfast press conference at The Guardian's sparkling new Kings Place office at which Guardian News & Media said it would be the first British newspaper publisher to open up its database to outside partners who will be able to use articles and statistics for free and build their own web applications. All surrounded by the sound of people live blogging the conference on their laptops.
Half an hour later I was back in Press Gazette's office following up a tip that the Guardian's MEN Media in Manchester was to make "significant" job cuts. While we had been blueskying in London about The Guardian being "everywhere" on the web, the storm clouds were gathering over Manchester.
It took a bit of winkling out because the company did not want to go public until after a series of staff briefings had finished at the end of the afternoon.
The figures as they emerged were dreadful. A total of 78 journalists jobs out of 150 redundancies are to go. What staggered me was 39 posts cut out of 90 on the Manchester Evening News, one of the great regional papers that has regularly and deservedly won top awards for its journalism. And more pain is likely to come at the Guardian's Surrey and Berkshire regional division today.
A web launch in London, devastating job cuts in print in Manchester.
A tale of two cities. A tale of two different media eras.
Johnston Press financial results here today show pre-tax profits down 28.1 per cent and UK advertising down 16.8 per cent.

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