Trinity Mirror has announced a major shift in the distribution of its local titles which will see many newspapers closed - and others published solely online.
Berkshire titles, the Reading Post, the Wokingham Times and the Bracknell Times will close, causing a reduction of approximately 17 editorial, three administrative and six commercial roles. However, some staff will be redistributed to the Getreading website which will provide online content for the Berkshire audience under the categories “Breaking News, What’s On, Reading Football Club and Sport".
In the West London region, titles in Uxbridge, Ealing and Hounslow will be taken exclusively under the GetWestLondon website in an online only capacity. Furthermore, the Harrow Observer will close with the publisher completely abandoning the region.
In Surrey, the Surrey Herald, the Surrey Times and the Woking Informer will close, with a streamlined Surrey Advertiser covering a larger catchment area to launch mid-December 2014.
Simon Edgley, managing director of Trinity Mirror Southern, said: “Decisions that impact our staff are never easy to make but they are absolutely necessary if we are to continue our transformation into a modern multiplatform publishing operation, with the flexibility and agility to invest and grow our news brands.”
Martin Shipton, chair of the Trinity Mirror NUJ group chapel, said: “This is a watershed moment for the regional newspaper industry. Trinity Mirror is shutting down well-established titles and replacing them with an online news presence unattached to newspapers. So far there is little evidence that an operation of this kind can generate the revenues needed to sustain a workforce of sufficient size to provide a decent news service.
“The speed at which this transition is taking place is very worrying. It seems the remaining journalists will be used as guinea pigs for an as yet unproven business model. There are good grounds to fear for the future of the sector.”
Laura Davison, a national organiser for the NUJ, added: “This announcement is a huge shock for everyone affected. Trinity Mirror must have been working on these proposals for some time, but breathed no word, not even when meeting with the government minister on the future of the sector just last week.
“Now they want to push these closures through at top speed before the minimum consultation period has expired. Even on day one, mistakes and holes are appearing in their proposals; there needs to be proper time for meaningful consultation with the workforce and readers able to have their say.”
In October, the firm restructured and rebranded its commercial division.