Monday 28 September 2009

Newspaper closures: 'Where was Trinity Mirror's investment during the good times?'

David Banks, the co-editor of Essential Law for Journalists, has posted on his blog about the closure of the Neath and Port Talbot Guardians by Trinity Mirror's Media Wales, which the company has blamed on the economic downturn.
Banks writes: "One might forgive the company this sad decision, had it, during the times of massive profits, ie five years ago, invested in its newspaper operations to make them a more attractive proposition to readers and advertisers. Now, in a time of not-quite-so-massive profits, decisions to close loss-making operations might have been justifiable.
"But let's just look at what the senior management of this company have done in the good times to equip Trinity Mirror for the bad times that now afflict them.
"Their 'big idea' was to send in the time and motion men. Blokes with reams of paper, who surveyed every inch of the business looking for fat to trim so that it could post the even-bigger profits its shareholders demanded.
"Every newsroom had a visit from these people. Who came up with stunning ideas like: "Rather than check, rewrite and add to press releases, why not just cut'n'paste them into the paper, saving time and money?" Brilliance like that is beyond price.
"As a result newsrooms were slashed. Not through redundancy, but by non-recruitment of trainees and non-replacement of staff. A gradual process of attrition that has left these places understaffed and lacking in experienced reporters."
"And that was in the times of plenty. Ad revenues were good, circulation was in a gentle but manageable decline. These businesses were very, very profitable.
"Then the bad times come round and what's their big idea now? More cuts. This time redundancies which, understandably, have been seized by some veteran journalists who were the heart and soul of these operations. And who can blame them leaving newspapers where their knowledge, contacts and expertise are treated with such contempt by national management?"
Banks adds: "If TM cannot or will not give local communities the service they want, then I hope the BBC's ultra local plans are revived and this time the protests of newspaper corporations are ignored."
Via Patrick Smith on Twitter

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