Birmingham MPs protest against local paper redundancies
16 June 2015
Ten Birmingham MPs have written to Simon Fox, the chief executive of Trinity Mirror (TM), to protest about his plans to cut jobs at the Birmingham Post and Mail.
The MPs called for a meeting with the newspaper publisher and have asked that "no irrevocable steps are taken in the meantime". They said they were worried that "Birmingham brands, of which so many Brummies are proud, are being wound down, the decline hastened as a result of under-investment and poor management from the parent company in London".
TM said it would be cutting 19 jobs in Birmingham and six in Coventry. The two NUJ chapels in Coventry have passed motions of no confidence in the management over the proposal to introduce individual audience targets, which they say will force them to write "click-bait" stories rather than in-depth investigations.
The MPs' letter said:
"As the 10 Members of Parliament representing Birmingham, we were alarmed to hear that the Birmingham Post and Mail is planning 19 editorial redundancies – more than a quarter of its journalists.
"The admission from Trinity Mirror that the Birmingham Post and Mail cannot 'dutifully report everything which happens on our patch' is also very alarming. What does this mean for coverage of the city council, political affairs, the education system, criminal activity, the health service and courts? Are you going to be able to hold figures in authority to account?
"Does it mean that only stories which interest the public will be appearing, rather than those in the public interest?
"We are worried that Birmingham brands, of which so many Brummies are proud, are being wound down, the decline hastened as a result of under-investment and poor management from the parent company in London. We find it unbelievable that an established news organisation covering Britain's second-largest city at a time of economic growth is failing to make a profit – and that Birmingham is being talked of as being the first major city to lose its daily newspaper, if not now then quite possibly in the not too distant future.
"We understand the local news industry has faced challenges, competition from the internet and new media but have to ask why other cities are maintaining larger news organisations. Staff understood that Trinity Mirror was going to nurture and grow the online and mobile sides of the publication, while maintaining its print edition. But now it appears that the company is demanding immediate results, and that the recent rapid growth in online circulation is not enough. How do you plan to maintain that readership without the journalists to generate the unique local stories to attract them?
"Is it the case that the cost of the recent phone hacking court action has prompted the large-scale redundancies we are now seeing? That the people of Birmingham, and Trinity Mirror's customers and clients, are paying the price for decisions made in a national newsroom a decade ago?
"We wish to meet with you as soon as possible to discuss this issue further and would ask that no irrevocable steps are taken in the meantime."
- Jack Dromey, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Erdington
- Roger Godsiff, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Hall Green
- Shabana Mahmood, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Ladywood
- Liam Byrne, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Hodge Hill
- Steve McCabe, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Selly Oak
- Jess Phillips, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Yardley
- Gisela Stuart, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston
- Khalid Mahmood, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Perry Barr
- Richard Burden, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfields
- Andrew Mitchell, Member of Parliament for Sutton Coldfield