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Plaid MP challenges Trinity Mirror over job cuts

© senedd

10 June 2016

Hywel Williams says quality journalism in Wales has been put at the risk as more jobs go on Trinity Mirror titles, including the newspaper group's only reporter based at the National Assembly.

Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader and MP for Arfon, Hywel Williams expressed his fears that journalism in Wales is being eroded by an agenda of cuts which has put at risk journalism's job of holding governments and the politically powerful to account.  
Hywel Williams, a member of the NUJ’s Parliamentary Group, has tabled an early day motion in parliament criticising Trinity Mirror’s decision to axe Daily Post jobs in North Wales and the paper’s sole Senedd correspondent in Cardiff. The motion has secured cross-party support from Labour and the SNP.
He said:

“This is a significant step back for the paper which aspires to serve the people of North Wales. It’s vitally important that the activity of both the Welsh Government and the National Assembly is scrutinised and politicians held firmly to account for their actions. The role of a Senedd correspondent is crucial in this respect. Removing an independent voice from Cardiff Bay significantly reduces this level of scrutiny and opens the door to complacency and indifference. This is bad for democracy and a dis-service to the people of Wales.”   

Siân Gwenllian AM, Arfon Assembly Member  added:

“Democracy thrives under the scrutiny of journalists and this is a detrimental step in the wrong direction for both journalism and the Welsh Assembly. Removing the Daily Post correspondent from the Assembly is also doing Daily Post readers and the electors of North Wales in general a great dis-service. Many feel far-removed from what’s happening in Cardiff Bay at the best of times and the insights of the Daily Post reporter based there are therefore crucial. I urge Trinity Mirror to re-consider its position.”

Paul Scott, the NUJ’s Executive Member for Wales and chair of the union’s north Wales branch said:

“I welcome Hywel Williams’ early day motion and am encouraged to see how politicians are becoming increasingly sceptical about the pronouncements being made by mammoth media companies, especially when it comes to commitments about the future of regional and local media.
“Our members at Trinity Mirror North Wales are concerned about the future viability of the print titles they work on, many of which have won national awards, and morale is at an all-time low. Constant editorial restructuring leaves individual journalists in ever uncertain situations and they view cuts to resources as an assault on the newspaper titles they care about and are proud to work for.
“The recent announcement regarding Trinity Mirror North Wales’s decision to withdraw its Welsh affairs reporter from Cardiff Bay has astonished our members as the decision appears to have no cost benefit and will only lead to a dilution of the coverage of the business of the National Assembly for Wales and other important Welsh institutions.
“Trinity Mirror appears to be moving further and further away from the issues its newspapers and websites cover and from the communities they serve. I call on the company to talk to our members in North Wales to address their concerns about staffing levels and the future of local titles.
“I would also ask management to think again about the decision to relocate the Welsh political correspondent and prove to us all that the company remains committed to public service journalism that holds the powerful and influential to account.” 

That this House deplores the announcement from Trinity Mirror that it will be scrapping eight jobs at the North Wales newspaper, the Daily Post, including its only reporter based at the National Assembly for Wales; notes that the National Assembly for Wales has responsibility for the Welsh NHS, Welsh schools and the Welsh economy and has a significant impact on the daily lives of people across the north of Wales, as well as the rest of the country; believes that effective journalism is intrinsic to democracy and is essential in challenging the powerful and holding public bodies to account; regrets that the people of North Wales will be left without a source of information as to the actions of their government; further notes the words of Thomas Jefferson, found in a letter addressed to the Welsh philosopher Richard Price in 1789, that wherever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government, that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right; and calls on Trinity Mirror to reconsider its decision to relocate the only reporter based in the Senedd and to talk to, and work with, the National Union of Journalists before any decisions are taken.

NUJ's media manifesto for Wales

Tags: , wales, local newspapers, trinity mirror, Daily Post, democracy, Welsh parliament, welsh assembly, local news matters