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Plaid Cymru voice fear for democracy as Newsquest make more cuts

4 December 2008

Newsquest has announced job cuts on weekly papers in Wales, just a few days after Trinity Mirror delivered a similar blow. Politicians in the region have voiced concerns that ill-informed citizens will be left less able to participate in the democratic process.

Newsquest West Wales is to close its office in Milford Haven and axe two jobs. The Milford Mercury will be produced from Haverfordwest alongside the Western Telegraph.

The Ammanford-based South Wales Guardian is to lose one reporter. Some edition changes will be scrapped.

The Hereford Times, which covers England-Wales border country, plans to cut one sub, one photographer, and two reporters. That amounts to a quarter of its editorial workforce.

Lawrence Shaw, National Union of Journalists' assistant organiser for Wales, said:

"Journalists on all these titles already work on a shoe-string and are under enormous stress.
"They don't want to leave – they are committed to serving these unique communities where the local paper is the glue that holds civic society together."

The NUJ is in talks about securing union recognition with Newsquest West Wales.

Last week, Trinity Mirror axed eight jobs on their north Wales weeklies. Cuts were announced on the company's south Wales weeklies in November.

Seven editorial jobs are due to go and offices will close in Aberdare, Ebbw Vale and Neath.

Janet Ryder, Plaid Cymru's Assembly Member (AM) for North Wales, said:

"Trinity Mirror seems determined to cut costs by reducing quality.
"These substantial job losses, in terms of percentages, mean that it's virtually impossible for the remaining journalists to provide copy and pictures for both the newspaper and online editions that are of the same quality that we now have.
"I share the National Union of Journalists' concerns that the news operation is down to its bare bones already. Accurate reporting of events in the area, as well as the political scene, is vital and we have precious few quality outlets as it is.
"Losing more journalism jobs damages democracy in Wales because people are becoming more and more reliant on one source for all their information."

South Wales AMs Leanne Wood, of Plaid Cymru, and Trish Law, an independent, have tabled a Statement of Opinion in the National Assembly asking Trinity Mirror to reconsider the newspaper office closures in their region.

Tags: , trinity mirror, newspapers, cuts, south wales guardian, newsquest, milford mercury, western telegraph, hereford times, plaid cymru, assembly wales, milford haven