All Welsh Assembly parties back NUJ Trinity Mirror campaign
15 September 2015
Following concerns raised by the NUJ about the future of quality journalism at Media Wales (Trinity Mirror), all four parties in the Welsh Assembly have pledged their support for the union’s campaign. Trinity Mirror has announced its intention to impose website 'click' targets for journalists from January 2016.
Andrew RT Davies, Conservative Welsh Assembly Member, said:
"Placing an emphasis on 'popularity' above public interest sets a precedent that will be difficult to reverse.
"I don’t doubt that a list of celebrity fashion faux-pas would attract more clicks than a thoughtful analysis of the Welsh government’s proposals for council reorganisation – but which is more important?
"I would strongly urge Trinity Mirror to think again before pressing ahead with these plans, though they are almost certainly not the only media organisation introducing such targets.
"With so much information floating around, the temptation to sensationalise is already difficult enough to resist. Traditional 'newspapers' can no longer function on advertising revenue alone, driving them towards online advertising – and hence the need for clicks.
"In the long run, however, these targets will have a hugely damaging impact on our political culture, spelling an end to serious investigative journalism."
Ann Jones, Chair of the Labour Group at the Welsh Assembly, said:
"The Welsh Media is not as pluralistic as many would like but the Western Mail and other Trinity Mirror publications, play a crucial role in both the scrutiny process and engaging Welsh residents with the decision making process.
"We are concerned that proposals to assess content and journalists based on the number of 'clicks,' will inevitably incentivise journalists to steer away from more complicated stories as well as changing the way they cover stories, potentially solely focusing on more 'sensational' elements.
"We urge Trinity Mirror to reconsider and discuss these matters further with its employees in Wales."
Simon Thomas, Plaid Cymru Welsh Assembly Member, said:
"The diktat coming out of the Canary Wharf headquarters of Trinity Mirror is aimed at boosting the website clicks at Wales Online, yet it is once again cutting the workforce at Wales’s largest newspaper centre.
"I want an assurance from Trinity Mirror that there will be no attempt to undermine quality journalism at Media Wales. Journalists must be given appropriate time to pursue and write major stories, without fear that it will be held against them because of the ‘click’ mentality."
Peter Black, Liberal Democrat Welsh Assembly Member, said:
"I’m incredibly concerned that any move towards clickbait journalism will mean less coverage for our Welsh political institutions, which can only be bad for democracy.
"Making individual journalists’ targets based solely on the number of times their articles are viewed massively devalues true investigative journalism, and could spell an end for in-depth research to uncover wasteful spending, bad management or irresponsible actions in Cardiff Bay or County Halls.
"A story about someone spotting a Kim Kardashian look-alike in Gorseinon could well get more clicks than an article about underinvestment in Wrexham’s mental health services, but without more stories like the latter there will be fewer opportunities to drive forward improvements to public services.
"Media Wales is one of the few truly pan-Wales media organisations we have. They have a duty to provide a space for politicians of all kinds to be held to account. If these plans go ahead I fear our politics will only become more unaccountable and detached from the people we represent."
Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said:
"We appreciate this support for our campaign. Trinity Mirror needs to listen to these concerns and those of its journalists which are founded on a genuine commitment to quality and sustainability of the business. Creating a culture in which only quick hits without genuine substance is the priority is ultimately going to turn off the very readers Trinity Mirror wants to attract."
Martin Shipton, chair of the NUJ's Trinity Mirror group chapel, said:
"We are grateful for the support offered to our campaign by all four parties represented in the National Assembly. It reflects the widespread concern that individual 'click' targets for journalists will lead to a race to the bottom in terms of quality.
"A sustainable future for media groups like Trinity Mirror will be determined by the level of their commitment to high quality journalism, not by a crude measure of website clicks from no matter where and no matter whom."