'Trinity Mirror' aggravates digital revolution debate

Tuesday 18th November 2014 09:14 EST

Publishers 'Trinity Mirror' announced that they were closing seven of its local newspapers including The Reading Post, Harrow Observer and Woking Informer to establish a more online focused platform. This has caused outrage in the regional print-journalism community.

Resulting in the loss of 50 jobs with the most casualties in editorial, The National Union of Journalists described the decision as a “sickening blow” for the company’s west London employees and a “watershed moment” for the local newspaper industry. Martin Shipton, the chair of the Trinity Mirror NUJ group chapel elaborated: “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.”

Even rival editor Lesley Potter demonstrated concern about the company's decision. Speaking on behalf of her publication The Reading Chronicle est. 1825, Potter stated “we have been fierce rivals over the years, but we have always had a healthy respect for one another. We at the Reading Chronicle have absolutely no intention of abandoning print.”

Despite the objections, 'The Trinity Mirror' has cited a 12% slide in print advertising revenue for the 17 weeks to October 26, following a 9% fall for the first half of 2014 and a 44% rise in digital publishing revenue over that same period. About 10 new digital editorial roles and two digital commercial roles will be generated for their new digital model. Simon Edgley, the managing director of Trinity Mirror Southern, described their actions as a “bold digital-only publishing transformation” for a “digital-savvy audience” and said that this was “an important and pioneering step that might, in time, be applicable to other existing markets or indeed new ones (…) 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.”

The union announced this week it had written to culture and digital economy minister Ed Vaizey calling for an inquiry into the future of local newspapers due to a number of similar cases with newspapers across the UK.

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