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Trinity Mirror slashes 78 editorial jobs at regional titles as it refocuses on digital and video

Trinity Mirror is making 78 redundancies at its regional weekly and daily titles and refocusing its business around digital and video.

As part of the company restructure, the publisher is creating 44 new roles focused on boosting its digital expertise, including 17 specifically aimed at video journalists and producers.

The roles that will be made redundant will be spread across the editorial department, including management. To "improve efficiency", the company will introduce regional print production teams who will share resource.

The publisher has said that the proposed restructure will not result in the closure of any titles.

Trinity Mirror's editorial director for the regions, Neil Benson, said: "It is essential that we keep reviewing the way we are set up in order to stay relevant to readers, to capitalise on audience growth opportunities and to keep our costs in line with revenues.

"As a result, this means we are proposing that a number of roles will be lost. However, this will be partially offset by a number of new roles being introduced, particularly around video creation and production, which we see as a significant opportunity.

"The restructure is a key part of our strategy to secure a long term, successful and sustainable future for regional press."

The NUJ has called for an immediate commitment to an improvement in redundancy terms for volunteers who wish to leave the company and assurances that workloads will be sustainable for those who will remain.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “News of yet more cuts is a massive blow to journalists working throughout the group who need to be convinced that this new strategy for chasing digital growth is one that will actually yield results and – critically – one that will preserve quality journalism across the group.

The decision to pull staff from its regional titles comes after the publisher has struggled to maintain its portfolio of local titles since it took over Local World in October 2015 in a deal worth £220m. In October last year, it announced the closure of Crawley News, OneMK, Luton on Sunday and the Northampton Herald and Post.

This followed the closure of five small titles in August: Western Morning News Sunday, North Somerset Mercury, Grantham Target, Mercury Extra and Midweek Mercury - Stevenage. At the time the publisher said the market for its regional titles “remains difficult”.

The news also follows the surprise exit of chief revenue officer James Wildman last week to head up Hearst Magazines in the UK. Wildman was responsible for the group’s national advertising revenue, which in recent years has been hit hard by print declines across the industry. While the group’s digital ad revenue grew 11% in the third quarter of 2016, this failed to offset declines in print advertising, which dropped 21% year-on-year in Q3 2016.

Wildman was also instrumental in the launch of Trinity Mirror’s mini tabloid paper The New Day, an experiment that attempted to prove the value of print but closed after only two months in circulation.

The publisher has renewed its merger talks with Northern & Shell’s Express Newspapers to take a minority stake in the business, as part of chairman Simon Fox’s declared ambition to try and expand the group as it faces the mounting challenges of the digital age. Over the past 12 months Trinity Mirror’s share price has slumped by 42% in the face of sliding circulations.

Trinity Mirror is one of the key members of joint publisher initiative Project Rio, an industry-wide effort to tackle print declines.