Latest Job Cuts Are Sad – But That’s 2012 Newspaper Reality

So it’s redundancy time once again. First, at the two Telegraph titles and now at the Mirror trio.
This is the stark reality of modern newspapers, the result of a coincidence of commercial necessity and technological innovation.
There is sure to be more hand-wringing at the decision by Trinity Mirror (LSE: TNI) (TM) to cut a further 75 jobs, amounting to 18.75% of its editorial workforce.
But, without wishing to appear to bless another tranche of redundancies at the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People, it must be obvious to all that it is the way of the world.
Most people are expected to leave voluntarily and it is to be hoped they pick up enough severance cash to ensure they can pay their mortgages for some time to come.
What many of them will know is that getting a replacement job is going to be very tricky indeed.
I expect both the British Association of Journalists (BAJ) and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) will issue statements condemning the action.
They will be heartfelt and sincere, of course, but they will not change the course of a process that is now irreversible.
In June 2010, I reported that TM was making 200 editorial staff redundant. That 25% cut resulted in the overall staffing being reduced to the current 400.
So the three papers will end up in a couple of months’ time with 325 journalists between them. (I seem to recall, when I edited the Daily Mirror 20-odd years ago, that it alone had more than 400 staff).
TM has announced that its move is linked to what it calls “editorial restructuring”, which involves an expansion of its ContentWatch production system.
In its statement this afternoon, TM claimed that ContentWatch had “helped transform the newsroom”. It probably has. And it is probably right in claiming also that the restructuring will “create an even more efficient multimedia operation.”
None of can ignore the fact that it is possible to do so much so quickly with advancing digital tools.
Note, however, that “a centralised reporting and production hub” will operate with “teams working across all three titles” over seven days.
I can understand the production part of that operation. I am less sanguine about reporters working across titles.
Then again, somewhat contradictorily, the company’s statement also says that there will be a “retention of bespoke editorial teams for each title to protect their unique identity.”
I’m not quite certain how that squares with editors having “access to a greater number of reporters than is currently available to them on an individual basis.”
Clearly, the editors – Richard Wallace, Tina Weaver and Lloyd Embley – have their work cut out to bed in the new system.
Wallace is evidently going to assume management responsibility for the new system while continuing to edit the Daily Mirror. Good luck with that, Richard.

This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.