The NUJ has welcomed the launch this week of Chris Bullivant's new paper the Birmingham Press - which will take on the Birmingham Post - by having a dig at the Post's publisher, Trinity Mirror.
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said today: “The launch of the Birmingham Press this week is a vote of confidence in the city as a news centre where the skills of writers, photographers and production journalists can help to provide an added service to readers in a complex modern environment.
“As the union for professional journalists, the NUJ wishes the new venture well. It is ironic that its launch might never have happened if Birmingham Post and Mail proprietors Trinity Mirror had behaved more sensibly. We warned Trinity Mirror that by collapsing the scope of its publications in the city and making journalists redundant, the market was being opened up for a competitor happy to recruit skilled staff who became unexpectedly available."
The NUJ notes Trinity Mirror has made more than 100 journalists redundant in the West Midlands and "reduced" the Birmingham Post to a weekly.
NUJ organiser for the midlands Chris Morley, a former Birmingham Mail industrial correspondent, added: "The launch of an entirely new paper in a major city like Birmingham is a significant step. The creation of the Birmingham Press is a warning to all major British publishers that they have made themselves vulnerable to other players by reducing their their editorial workforce so that they may lack the resources to respond to competition.
"We warned Trinity Mirror that it was fundamentally weakening its core titles by making the swingeing cuts it did. It may be that further cuts have now been suspended by the company because of the threat from a rival. If Trinity Mirror wants to survive in Birmingham it must stop cutting and start investing in its journalism."
- The BusinessDesk West Midlands reports today: "BIRMINGHAM’S newspaper war entered a new phase this week as Trinity Mirror and entrepreneur Chris Bullivant unveiled their rival titles – and it appears that round one has gone to the Birmingham Post Lite. The TM title was first to market, a free version of the city’s flagship weekly newspaper that will be delivered to 18,000 homes in upmarket areas. Post Lite was published this morning (Thursday), on the same day as its paid-for sister title, and 24 hours ahead of the Birmingham Press, the Bullivant title whose launch triggered the battle. Crucially, Post Lite contains 72 pages of property advertising – eight more than the Press. The support of estate agents is the crucial commercial battleground between the new papers.The Press will have 116 pages, including 64 carrying property advertising, and will also be available for sale in areas such as Solihull and Sutton Coldfield."
- The NUJ and Unite unions issued a joint statement today after redundancies were announced among finance and clerical staff at the Manchester Evening News. The statement said:“The NUJ and Unite are disappointed that within weeks of Trinity Mirror taking over the newspaper operation, redundancies have been announced. We feared that any takeover would result in cost-cutting rather than the much-needed investment in a long-neglected business. This announcement will not help to quell the worries of our hard working loyal members at the MEN.
- “The NUJ and Unite are seeking assurances from Trinity Mirror and recommending they declare now that it is not planning massive cuts on its newly acquired titles to make up the £20 million savings that group chief executive Sly Bailey said she intended making this year. If this business is to recover from the trauma of recession, our members need to hear this commitment.”