NUJ says editorial roles must be protected after Express take-over deal
9 February 2018
The "brilliant journalists" on the Mirror and Express newspapers must not be casualties of the Trinity Mirror take-over deal, the National Union of Journalists said.
The Mirror publisher announced it had bought the daily and Sunday newspapers and celebrity magazines including Ok! magazine from Richard Desmond's Northern & Shell, plus the company's 50 per cent joint venture interest in the Irish Daily Star, in a deal worth £126.7m
The deal still needs the approval of Trinity Mirror shareholders and it may be referred to the Competition and Markets Authority on media plurality grounds.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
"After many years of under-investment and one pay increase in the past decade, journalists working for Richard Desmond have been desperate for a new owner to provide the resources needed to help increase the readership and the success of the titles. However, the NUJ is concerned that Trinity Mirror, with its long record of making cuts to its newspapers, will not be the knight on the white horse they were hoping for.
"Therefore we will be seeking guarantees that the deal will not result in redundancies and that the titles will be able to thrive. We expect to be involved fully in consultations on the changes planned for these titles. As the government starts an inquiry into the sustainability of the press, this takeover will have a dramatic effect on the national newspaper landscape and therefore the deal must not result the closure of titles, loss of independence of titles or choice for readers."
A spokesman for the Express Newspapers NUJ chapel said:
"Our titles employ some brilliant journalists, but they have been starved of investment and pay rises in the past few years. If this takeover means that the papers and websites are going to be able to compete with rivals on a more equal footing, then we will welcome it. It is vital that Trinity Mirror gives cast-iron guarantees that there will be no editorial cuts or merging of editorial resources to ensure that the titles and their websites retain separate voices."
The Mirror's NUJ chapel echoed the call for assurances on no cuts to editorial roles on the newspapers: "Both newspapers are already run as tight ships and therefore there should be no threat to editorial jobs and house agreements must be respected."
The announcement said the take-over would involve £20m savings by 2020, with most of the savings accomplished by 2019. Simon Fox, Trinity Mirror CEO, told Radio 4’s Today’s programme these would be largely backroom savings. He said the titles would retain editorial independence. He said it would mean pooling of editorial so instead of sending two reporters to one football match, they could go to different matches. Richard Desmond will have no influences; he will be a normal shareholder, he said.