You can't accuse former Birmingham Posteditor Marc Reeves of sitting on the fence with his verdict on Chris Bullivant's new weekly Birmingham Press, launched today. He writes on his blog: "I give it six months."
Reeves, now editor of online business news service TheBusinessDesk West Midlands, also takes a swipe at the NUJ which yesterday welcomed Bullivant's launch.
Reeves says: "you’d think Bullivant had created in his Knowle nerve centre a newsroom bursting at the seams with well-paid reporters, news editors, a complete picture desk, a features department, night editors and even copy boys. Just like the good old days that the NUJ understands.
"The truth, of course, is somewhat different. The Press is being produced by the brilliant Tony Lennox, who through his years running the Post and Mail’s weekly newspapers continued to produce titles even when Trinity (and other owners) had reduced staffing in some cases to 0.5 reporters per title.
"That’s the skillset Bullivant wants running his editorial operation, which has to be at the lower end of low-cost. The team behind Tony, such as it is, is made up of mates, ex-colleagues and enthusiasts who have been kicking their heels recently and are grateful for the measly lineage on offer from the Press."
He adds: "The self-regarding NUJ have missed the mark again. They think this battle is about newspapers and journalism in Birmingham. It isn’t – it’s all about a small business trying to take revenue away from a large business – Bullivant only wants to hoover up property advertising revenue from under Trinity Mirror’s nose. Journalists – and journalism – are nothing more than bit-part players in this fight."
His killer conclusion: "As long as Bullivant thinks he’s got the estate agents on side, he’ll keep writing cheques for Tony. As soon as it looks like Trinity Mirror are winning the battle, he’ll pull the plug.
"I give it six months."
I am a freelance journalist based in the UK and was deputy editor of Press Gazette, the journalists' magazine, from 1993 until 2006. I want to give an independent view on media matters.
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