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Death by a thousand cuts?

Graeme McGilliard

A NEW beer was launched this week called Unemployed Reporter Porter – the invention of a former hack who needed something new to do with his life.

Sadly, as I face up to attending lots of leaving dos for former Manchester Evening News colleagues in the coming weeks and months, it’s too close to home to be funny.

Trinity Mirror’s announcement that they are axing 25 journalist jobs at the MEN, as part of a wider nationwide job cull as they prepare for a digital future, is just the latest sorry chapter in the ever-changing face of journalism.

On the one hand, as circulations slide towards vanishing point, you can see the business sense in consolidating a lot of shared content that’s not geography specific and putting the focus on local news and sport, deemed to be the two drivers that can keep regional papers alive for longer.

However, what coverage will these papers’ readers actually be getting?

Fewer staff means more pressure on those who remain, jobs are done quicker, mistakes inevitably creep in and the chance to lift your head from the desk to actually find some off-diary news becomes non-existent. In addition, budgets have been cut so much there’s now precious little left to take the scissors to, so readers are paying their 50-odd pence daily for lots of content they generate themselves or free-to-use agency copy.

In the scramble for a sustainable business model, there will be further radical changes in newspapers and how we consume them.  It’s most likely that big national titles will be OK, ditto hyper-local titles.

But in the case of my former stamping ground the MEN – and the country’s other big city titles – they can’t offer the depth of local news that a true local paper can nor match the reach and resources of the national titles, so are in grave danger of being cast adrift.

It’s a sad realisation for all those of us who once worked for them or grew up with them, but these could be the last days for many proud and historic household names. I dearly hope not.

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