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MORE CUTS RUMOURED AT POST AND MAIL

24-06-2009

The daily Birmingham Post is facing the axe according to the NUJ who reckon it could be soon become a weekly edition. The union also says there are plans afoot to force the Birmingham Mail into a morning only publication, dramatically reducing its ability to cover breaking news.

The Stirrer has been unable to rouse either Post editor Marc Reeves or his Mail counterpart Steve Dyson – although these claims chime with rumours we’ve heard in recent weeks from staffers on both papers.

According to the NUJ, eight weekly titles across the Midlands are likely to disappear – which we understand are the less successful editions of the Birmingham News.

The delay in making the announcements is apparently designed to conform to legal requirements about staff consultation – but the decision is expected to be formally revealed in September.

The cuts come despite the fact that the documents reveal the Mail will be profitable next year. Planned editorial cuts are expected to reduce expenditure by a further £2.5m following cuts of £2m last year.

NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear said: “It is clear these cuts are being directed by the board. Editorial staff and managers are vehemently opposed to them. There can be no doubt former MD Steve Brown was sacked for refusing to countenance the wholesale destruction of the titles being planned.

“The company needs to come clean about these disastrous plans and the community needs to stand up for quality journalism.

“If Trinity Mirror shareholders are more interested in filling their pockets than providing the resources necessary to ensure the people of the Midlands are properly served by their local papers, they should step aside and let others take over the titles.”

Chris Morley, the union’s Northern Organiser and a former industrial correspondent at the Birmingham Mail, said: “The plans under discussion lay bare the massive managerial incompetence that these titles have been subject to over many years, but particularly since coming under Trinity Mirror ownership.

"Canary Wharf has in turn starved the Midlands editorial operations of investment while turning the screw on unrealistic cutbacks in the face of untypical competition in the market. Just two years ago it tried to sell the assets and when it couldn't get any price decided to use the Midlands as the test bed for its multi-media 'brave new world'.

"Now it is evident that they are not going to allow this business the time and resources to turn itself around after all, and seem content to try to keep cutting it into oblivion. The NUJ will not stand idly by and let these proud titles be squeezed to death by owners that do not prize them as the important assets they are. The cities they circulate in will be appalled at the sorry prospects Trinity Mirror give them."

A spokesman for Trinity Mirror issued a statement saying, “We are constantly reviewing our business, particularly in the current challenging economic environment.

"As always, if we do have any plans to announce, our staff would be the first to know."

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