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Mounting support to save Trinity Mirror's Caernarfon office

© NUJ

11 April 2015

The NUJ campaign against Trinity Mirror's decision to close the local office in Caernarfon is growing as the union prepares the for the rally tomorrow on Saturday 11 April 2015.

The union’s rally will take place at 1pm, Turf Square, Caernarfon in Wales and the event has been organised to show solidarity and support for local news based in the community.

There has been a newspaper office in Caernarfon since 1855 and closing it will be a massive blow to the town and local democracy.

 

In advance of the rally, a range of community leaders have spoken out in support of the campaign and call on Trinity Mirror to reverse their decision.

Alun Ffred Jones, Plaid Cymru AM for Arfon, said:

"The decision by Trinity Mirror to close its Herald offices at Caernarfon must be reversed. Caernarfon has been the focal point of the Herald for 150 years; it will be impossible to serve the interest of North West Wales from Llandudno and it is vital we maintain the distinct character of the local papers. Reporters on the ground need a meeting place to share ideas and stories. This is a short-sighted and self-defeating move."

Cllr Dyfed Edwards, Plaid Cymru leader of Gwynedd Council, said:

"It appears that the fate of the Caernarfon office has been decided by the policy of Trinity Mirror to continue its 'relentless focus on efficiency and cost management through the use of technology to simplify, centralise or outsource those processes which are non-consumer facing' as its chief executive recently stated. Whilst we all understand the need to embrace technology and recognise new ways of accessing media, local democracy is underpinned by a strong media that is locally based which serves as the voice of local communities."

Hywel Williams, Plaid Cymru MP for Caernarfon/Arfon 2001-2010 and incumbent candidate in the general election, said:

"This is yet another blow to local journalism which has felt the force of centralisation in recent years, especially here in North West Wales. Trinity Mirror are duty bound to provide local people with locally-sourced news. This can only be achieved with a local office, accessible to local people as and when they need it. This shift away from the heart of our community puts at risk the founding principles of journalism - news for the people by the people. I call on Trinity Mirror to reconsider their decision."

Alun Pugh, former Welsh government culture and media minister and general election candidate for Arfon, said:

"Local newspapers staffed by professional journalists are a vital community asset and I think it’s important that there is an office serving the Caernarfon area. Trinity Mirror really need to re-think this decision. Unless there is a serious commitment to, and an investment in, journalism, I can see a gradual decline in circulation and the eventual closure of the paper. That’s not in anyone’s interest."

Lord Dafydd Wigley, said:

"The most essential feature of the local newspaper is that it is rooted in its local community. Losing a publically available office undermines that essential feature. I call on Trinity Mirror to reconsider its decision."

Cllr Sian Gwenllian, Y Felinheli ward, Plaid Cymru candidate for Arfon in the 2016 Welsh Assembly election, said:

"As a journalist and life-long member of the National Union of Journalists, I extend my full support to the journalists and other members of staff affected by Trinity Mirror’s misguided and damaging decision to close the Caernarfon office, home to the Herald newspapers. Reporters working within the communities they serve, from a local newsroom, produce good, objective journalism - a vital element of local democracy. The way this decision has been made is further proof of how workers’ rights have been eroded by successive governments and confirms the need for new legislation. I am fully supportive of the rally organised and would urge all those who support their local newspaper to come along or to contact Trinity Mirror’s chief executive Simon Fox to voice their concerns."

Cllr Liz Saville Roberts, Morfa Nefyn ward, Plaid Cymru general election candidate for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, said:

"I used to work as a news reporter for the Herald newspapers at the beginning of the ‘90s. During my time there, I learnt how important robust and fearless journalism was to the rich community life of Gwynedd and Anglesey. I remember only too well how certain people in Holyhead would call into the office with the sole intention of telling me off for missing a story. And, believe me, there’s no shortage of stories in Holyhead. Since that golden era, we’ve seen newspapers offices closing across North West Wales and now the head office in Caernarfon is under threat. This shift away from our communities risks causing a breakdown in the close relationship between news and local people. It hands powers on a plate to the spin doctors as reporters lose touch with the word on the street and become ever more dependent on second-hand news. This impoverishes journalism and here in Wales we need robust and fearless journalism more than ever to give status to our own stories and, of course, to hold our politicians to account. I’d say this to Trinity Mirror newspapers: you provide us with a local news service and we buy your papers and provide a market for your advertisers – that’s the deal. Take the news reporters and advertising staff out of our communities. Tell us, how is that keeping your side of the bargain? It is your responsibility to keep local news at the heart of our communities."

Cllr Mair Rowlands, Bangor Menai ward, cabinet member for children, young people and leisure, Plaid Cymru’s general election candidate for the Vale of Clwyd, former Welsh Student’s Union president at Bangor University, said:

"I extend my full support to the journalists and other members of staff affected by Trinity Mirror's damaging decision to close the Caernarfon office, home to the Herald newspapers. I fear very much for the future of our local newspapers."

Cllr Sion Jones, Bethel ward, candidate for Arfon in the 2016 Welsh Assembly election, said:

"I am utterly disappointed that the Caernarfon office has even been considered for closure. We live in a rural area, people here appreciate the contact between local journalists and the ability to visit their office in Caernarfon for not only working on articles but for business advertisements, family notices and so on. As a current county councillor, and a former business owner in Caernarfon, the services from the Daily Post and the Herald have been valuable to my work and I have been a regular inside the office in Caernarfon. I hope that Trinity Mirror reconsider the closure of the office in Caernarfon."

Cllr Brian Jones, Labour Party, Cwm y Glo ward, said:

"I most certainly share your concerns and fear for the future of the professional groups who are and have been responsible for keeping local newspapers alive in Gwynedd."

Cllr Charles Jones, Plaid Cymru, Llanrug ward, said:

"Caernarfon is the capital of Welsh Wales and is the main administrative centre for local government, the judiciary and other important functions of state. Transferring the Herald office eastwards to a town of no particular significance, where the Welsh language is a minority language, is akin to moving the Millennium Stadium to Bristol. Yes, you could still play rugby there but at what cost? Keep the Herald office open so that local journalism remains just that."

Cllr Jason Humphreys, Llais Gwynedd, Porthmadog East ward, said:

"Quality journalism needs a physical presence in an increasingly detached, virtual world."

Cllr Peter Read, Llais Gwynedd, Abererch ward, said:

"More than a paper, it keeps the local community in a rural surrounding in touch."

Rachel Argyle, former Caernarfon and Denbigh Herald and Holyhead and Anglesey Mail journalist, said:

"I started my journalism career at this office and later the Holyhead office on Anglesey but this is now closed. Keeping offices like these open is hugely important to me and a vital part of local communities."

Ian Spindley, former Caernarfon and Denbigh Herald reporter, said:

"I worked in the Porthmadog office which was closed to save money and moved to Caernarfon which is threatened with closure to save money and no doubt in future production will leave Llandudno to save money. And so it goes. Fewer journalists covering even fewer local stories stuck at remote desks churning out corporate PR media releases to fill the space between ads."

Adam Christie, NUJ joint-president, said:

"I hope you will join me, NUJ members, families and friends with our colleagues working on the Caernarfon and Denbigh Herald, at the rally to tell Trinity Mirror management they are making a huge mistake in closing a newspaper office in the heart of these Welsh communities. These decisions, made by bean counters in London, show just how out of touch Trinity Mirror management is with the concept of a local newspaper. Readers will notice the stories picked up by reporters, who know their patch, are no longer appearing because the staff are based many miles away. Trinity Mirror need to reverse the decision to close the Caernarfon office and to make a public commitment to the future of local newspapers in this part of Wales."

David Thomson, Bolton News-Bury Times Group FoC, said:

"Congratulations on your determined and high profile campaign to retain your office. Our company shut our basein Bury, Lancashire, after a presence there of more than 150 years. Not to be able to operate in the town you serve not only compromises coverage but is a betrayal by the company of the community you serve. Our chapel wishes you the best for your rally and the battle to save your office from closure."

Solidarity from Sheffield Newspapers and South Yorkshire NUJ branch:

"Safwn mewn undod hefo'n cydweithwyr NUJ yng Nghaernarfon am eu rali au brwydr i achub eu swyddfa rhag cau. Rydych yn cymryd safiad gwych dros ein undeb a dros newyddiaduraeth."
"We stand as one with our NUJ colleagues in Caernarfon for their rally and their fight to save their office from closure. You are taking a brilliant stand for our union and journalism!"

FT NUJ chapel said:

"Local news and journalists matter. Good luck at the rally tomorrow. The FT chapel supports your fight for jobs and a vital local service."

NUJ Netherlands branch have sent their support:

"Local newspapers are the lifeblood of a community. We strongly support all efforts to save Caernarfon’s Trinity Mirror office, which with its 180 years of knowledge and experience serves as one of the pillars of democracy upon which our society depends."

The NUJ's cathaoirleach in Ireland, Gerry Curran, said:

"We might live in an ever connected and digital world. This might be changing many parts of the media industry in very quick and deep ways. But the very nature of journalism is seeing, hearing, enquiring, disbelieving, establishing facts, creating relationships, and being present on the ground where we report from. There is no greater tool of journalism than local knowledge. Machines, logarithms  and software cannot better that essential essence of understanding a community before we report on it, for it and about it. To close this local and historic office flies in the face of sense and understanding. It is an affront to good journalism, an imposition on staff, an ignorance of how good reporting makes good stories, and an ignoring of the community the newspaper is supposed to serve. Cop on and leave the office there. This is one so called efficiency too many."

Mary Griffiths Clarke, Labour candidate for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, said:

"Proposed closure of Caernarfon offices by Trinity Mirror is bad for journalists and bad for local people."

Alun Roberts, chairman of Caernarfon Rugby Club, said:

"It’s such a shame to hear about the closure of the Caernarfon Herald office. We have had a close relationship with the paper since the club was founded and at least two of the clubs stalwarts worked in the original Maes office. We are all aware that technology has made things easier to provide reports, however nothing will replace taking in a report and asking to look at the pictures which had been taken following a match, confirming the names and so on. Having lived in the town all my life, I’m certain people of all ages will miss having an office in town, in particular those who do not have the facility to provide information electronically. It just doesn’t seem right that we no longer have that option.”

Anna Wagstaff, secretary of the Oxford and District NUJ branch, said:

"Good luck from us in the Oxford and District branch to everyone demonstrating to keep Trinity Mirror's Caernarfon offices open. The idea that you can produce local news when you have no physical presence in the communities you serve is a complete con, and readers know when they're being conned. Great to see such strong political support. It would be nice to see that translated to political action to ensure local news publishers either provide communities with a proper quality news service, or step aside to let people who value local news do the job. Taking a stand against the running down of local news services is one of the most important things we can do as journalists. We're fighting the same fight here in Oxfordshire. Best of luck to you all."

More information -

Sign the Caernarfon and Denbigh Herald/Daily Post petition

To supply a quote in support of the campaign or for more information please email: campaigns@nuj.org.uk  

Tags: , local campaign, local media, local news matters, local newspapers, wales, trinity mirror, regional journalism, cuts, office closure, solidarity, politics, protests