Thursday, 23 July 2009

An ex-Trinity Mirror editorial manager writes...

Some good postings on MediaGuardian about Alan Rusbridger's comments last night on the need for state funding , possibly via the Press Association, for regional newspapers to cover "public service" reporting, like courts and councils.
I liked this one from a "former senior editorial manager at Trinity Mirror".
"Rusbridger's position on this accepts the lie that the reporting of local institutions is somehow unprofitable and unsustainable.
Here's what really happened.
Regional papers have always been profitable, making money hand over fist. Even though circulations have declined, ad revenues have increased.
Then back in the late '90s early 00s the Johnston Press group restructured their business and started posting 40% profits, a ridiculous sum in any industry.
But the shareholders of the other groups demanded the same and so in the relatively boom years of the turn of the century newspaper groups were cutting costs, losing staff, cutting numbers of editions and consolidating print operations. At the same time they were increasing pagination. So reporters could not be sent to court and council, it was time consuming. Better to chain them to the desk getting stories on the phone and e-mail - the 'churnalism' derided by Nick Davies in Flat Earth News.
Then the recession hit and what did the managerial geniuses do to weather that - cut costs even further. Brilliant.
I was a senior editorial manager in Trinity Mirror when all this was going on. All they are interested in doing is making maximum profit on minimum staff.
And despite the recession, migration of sits vac, motors and property to the net, they are still very profitable.
Now we are told that PA should be given public money to pay those groups to employ hacks to do a job they used to do but were stopped from doing in order to cut costs?
I think not. And Rusbridger should think again."

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