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MEN sale 'raises issues of editorial independence'

9 February 2010

The NUJ has described the acquisition of the Manchester Evening News (MEN) and its weekly papers by Trinity Mirror as "a very serious development".

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary, said:

"The move by Trinity Mirror has implications for the future ownership of local media across the UK, as major publishers weigh their chances of swallowing up what remains of independent publishing in Britain.
"The concerns for diversity of information and media in the North West are an immediate issue, which we will be raising with the Department of Business Innovation and Skills. Trinity Mirror already publishes the Liverpool Post and Echo titles, in addition to a substantial stable of weekly papers across Cheshire and Merseyside.
"Now it will also control the prestigious Manchester Evening News, which has a series of titles in the region. This all raises issues of editorial independence, which should be of concern to government and community leaders as well as the media industry.
"The NUJ's immediate priority is to secure the employment of the MEN workforce and to have real guarantees from Trinity Mirror that the quality and content of MEN publications will be protected.
"We are determined that the jobs and conditions of current employees will be fully protected and we will be seeking urgent discussions with management to establish investment plans for the development of the papers.
"Our members are particularly worried that Trinity Mirror employees have pension arrangements considerably less beneficial than those at Guardian Media Group. NUJ members simply will not accept any attempt to force these inferior pension conditions on them. "

Local leaders of the NUJ at the MEN titles pointed out that the acquisition brings to an end a hundred years of shared history between the Manchester Evening News and the Guardian.

Bethan Dorsett, mother of the MEN Media weeklies NUJ chapel and Judith Gordon, mother of the MEN chapel, said in a joint statement:

"It is a sad day when popular regional titles are sacrificed to sustain failing national titles.
"Like Guardian Media Group, however, we must now forget all historical ties and concentrate on the future. We expect Trinity Mirror to maintain all titles and all jobs and honour existing agreements with the NUJ.
"We will also be questioning the plan to move all journalists, who have already coped admirably in spite of the savage job cuts and office closures last year, to Oldham. Does moving the company's flagship newspaper away from the city centre make business sense? We think not."

Tags: , newspapers, manchester evening news, editorial independence, local newspapers, trinity mirror, guardian news and media, liverpool echo, liverpool daily post, pensions, cuts