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Your local newspaper, produced from the kitchen table

18 March 2014

Newspaper staff at a Trinity Mirror title have been told they will have to work from home as the company is to close the office.

The eight members of staff at the Crewe Chronicle will now have to turn their box room or kitchen table into their office.. The company told staff the move is "not primarily driven by financial reasons but as an experiment to see to see how journalists might be able to work in isolation". Staff were told they could work from their cars.

The plan, due to be in place by the end of May, is being viewed as a pilot that could be rolled out to other Trinity Mirror locations.

The Trinity Mirror Cheshire chapel has objected on professional grounds and also on how it will affect the personal working conditions of members. 

The chapel believes a newspaper should have a physical presence in the heart of the community it serves. It is also concerned that journalists will become isolated and will not benefit from the teamwork that results from working alongside colleagues in an office. Younger members of staff particularly benefit from working with more experienced colleagues.

The plan would be impractical for staff who have young children at home or have a room in a shared house. Paradoxically, when staff previously asked if they could work from home for specific reasons, their requests were turned down. Now they are being told they will have to turn their homes – or their parents' homes – into their office.

The chapel said it would mean contracts of employment would have to be significantly changed to cover the extra costs staff incur and for the company to provide suitable and safe individual working environments.

Chris Morley, Northern & Midlands organiser, said

“The manner in which the company is seeking to ram through a very significant change for the way journalists work with what appears to be a veneer of consultation is shoddy. They are giving the impression that it is a done deal and they will accept nothing less, but our members are saying this is not good enough and want to explore alternatives properly.

“Thriving local journalism is about teamwork and not the atomisation of editorial departments that trap journalists into "news prisons" where they don’t have clear access to support, training and the buzz that comes from working in a newsroom.
"We believe this will be damaging not only for our members but crucially for the titles they support – and will be badly received by the community they serve. We want the company to demonstrate it is willing to look at all reasonable options to retain a town centre office.”

The Crewe Chronicle was named the top North West weekly newspaper in the O2 Media Awards in November 2012.

Tags: , crewe chronicle, trinity mirror, closure, local newspapers, newspapers, local news, cheshire