The NUJ responds to the announcement that Sly Bailey, Trinity Mirror chief executive is to step down sixth months early.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said:
“Finally, Sly Bailey is doing the decent thing and leaving the company she has led into monumental decline. There is now a window of opportunity for Trinity Mirror to think long and hard about the way forward for its titles and for the business. The strategy of relentless cuts under Bailey’s management has repeatedly failed to turn around the company’s fortunes and only served to line the pockets of its chief executive – now is the time for investment in quality content and journalism.”
NUJ call for newspapers to be declared national assets was adopted by the Welsh Trade Union Congress at their annual conference by delegates unanimously passing an NUJ motion.
The NUJ has also backed calls for local newspapers to be given protected status as 'community assets' in parliament.
With community asset status - newspaper titles would not close overnight and there would be consultation on the paper's future - allowing potential new owners the time to put together a bid for the paper.
Questioning the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Jonathan Edwards MP said: "Welsh newspapers are a treasured part of our heritage, reflecting a mix of local news, views and sports coverage. They are a place where many excellent journalists work and become part of their communities.
"However, they are increasingly under threat as part of a wider shift in readership habits and, sometimes, poor management. The Localism Act created a form of 'community assets' which could not be sold off without consultation. If local papers could be included in this definition then it would recognise their local importance and prevent owners from closing down newspapers overnight and give time for new owners to come in, perhaps including a takeover by the local community.
"As the powers for this are in Westminster, I have pushed the Secretary of State to expand the category of 'community assets' to include local newspapers and allow the Welsh Government to be able to do this to save any newspapers in Wales which come under threat. Wales needs to have a blend of media, including broadcast, online and print."
Barry Fitzpatrick, NUJ deputy general secretary, said he believed local papers throughout the UK should be seen as community assets and be protected in the same way. He said: "It is also the case that newspapers should not be allowed to close overnight so the ownership of the title is unavailable to any alternative media ownership.
"These, often, iconic titles should be community assets in themself. If a paper is closed companies, such as Northcliffe or Trinity Mirror, must not be allowed to lock the title away. I believe that this will become even more important in the digital market where I can see a growth in web based papers serving local communities, who will want to use a name familiar to that community. Some of these titles in themselves will uniquely identify the locality."
Ian Mearns MP for Gateshead has also tabled an Early Day Motion in parliament praising the work of a local newspaper in his area -
That this House recognises that the Journal newspaper in the North East plays a prominent and exemplary role in defending and promoting the interests of the region and helps to overcome its physical and political distance from the centre of power in the UK notes the effectiveness of many specific campaigns including Taste North East England, which seeks to persuade consumers, retailers, hoteliers and restauranteurs to buy local, use local, eat local and the subsequent campaign, Think North East England First, which extended the positive discrimination message to other goods and services; welcomes the recent report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England which says that the money spent on local produce in local shops is worth three times as many jobs for the region as those spent in big stores; and recommends that more should be done to encourage small businesses and farm stores to set up ahead of the national and international brands as part of revitalising high streets and local economies.