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Dark days at Old Hall Street - part three

Post and Echo journalists vote no confidence in management as 17 more jobs face axe by Christmas

Published on November 6th 2009.

IT has long been thought by staffers that the Liverpool Daily Post should be renamed the Daily Miracle, given the ever-dwindling number of people it relies upon to bring it out each morning.

The mood is grim and I don't even want to think about the people who could be on their way out through no fault of their own

Yesterday, management at Old Hall Street announced that 17 more jobs were to go, most of them affecting the Post.

Now NUJ members at the Trinity Mirror titles there have passed a unanimous motion of no confidence in management. The chapel has also agreed overwhelmingly to start the balloting process for industrial action in the event of compulsory redundancies.

According to the union, the jobs under threat include seven multimedia journalists' posts, four photographers, all staff working on the copy-taking unit and the electronic picture desk.

For media anorak types, this means The Liverpool Daily Post will no longer have its own dedicated feature writers and pages and a source said it is thought any gaps in this area will be filled with general copy from the Press Association, available widely to most newspapers in the land. And while Old Hall Street took the step of running a training programme for all of its reporters in video work, there are reports that those online bulletins are set to be scrapped because of low hits.

It is understood that staff have got until next week to decide if they want to go voluntarily. Because there are fewer than 20 posts affected, just a month's consultation is required meaning that the 17 will be gone by mid December.

It has been a dark year at Trinity, but not for everyone. According to the NUJ, Trinity Mirror's three executive directors rewarded themselves with free share-handouts worth more than £800,000 while imposing job cuts and a pay freeze on the group's employees.

The share awards to chief executive Sly Bailey, finance director Vijay Vaghela and group legal director Paul Vickers were unearthed by TM journalists Media Wales in Cardiff, after the announcement of 13 redundancies there.

Ms Bailey wrote to all Trinity staff last November telling them there would be no pay rise in 2009 because of poor trading conditions. She said the pay freeze applied to all employees, including directors, adding that no bonuses would be paid either.But on April 3 this year, Ms Bailey was awarded 270,270 Trinity Mirror shares at no cost to herself, the investigation found. At the time shares were trading at 28.5p, so the value of the chief executive's handout was £77,026.95. Since then, however, the share price has risen, and today it stood at £1.66. That meant Ms Bailey's free shares have rocketed in value to £448,648.

Last year, a major restructure of Trinity's operations in Liverpool led to the loss of 43 editorial roles, and 100 printers' jobs also went when the titles switched the presses from here to Oldham. As a result the Echo, always an evening paper, now hits the shops at 8.30am, making the morning Post's market share very difficult.

Only last week, journalists at the Post and Echo and associated weeklies wrote to management to say they could not take any more cuts.

NUJ assistant organiser Lawrence Shaw said: "The relentless cuts on Merseyside are damaging the quality of the papers and websites, and the local economy. They also lead to stress and other health and safety issues for the journalists left behind."

A Trinity Mirror spokesman said: "We are disappointed that NUJ members have voted in favour of this action, which does nothing to address the issues which are currently facing the Trinity Mirror North West and Wales business."

Meanwhile, one insider told Confidential: “It is tragic that it has come to this in one of the greatest cities in the UK. Liverpool people tell stories, they are fantastic stories.

“The mood is grim and I don't even want to think about the people who could be on their way out through no fault of their own.

“People say that provincial newspapers are a dinosaur, but I don't accept this. The Post is being killed by a thousand blunt and inept cuts.”

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24 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

The PrattmanNovember 5th 2009.

Maybe we could sponsor the paper. How about the Liverpool Arena Daily Post?

PreciseNovember 5th 2009.

Are you sure your insider didn't say the Post is being destroyed by a thousand blunt and inept ****s

Almost an ex-readerNovember 5th 2009.

The Echo is crowing in tonight's, opps sorry, this morning's edition, that it's Stop the Rot campaign has saved the Welsh church on Princess Road. Didn't you carry this sorry at the start of this week by the way, another example of the Weekly Oldham Echo at its worse. It's Stop the Rot so-called campaign has been virtually inactive for the whole of this year so how can it claim the glory for this. No, this is down to hard work and dedication by a team from the City Council, and credit where it is due, must go to them. Nothing at all to do with the Echo or with Stop the Rot. But as there is a Stop the Rot campaign why doesn't the Echo write a story pleading for itself to be rescued and saved from the rotten thing it has become.

Rusty SpikeNovember 5th 2009.

Hey up....I could swear I just heard the ghostly refrains of John Lennon's voice drifting across the Mersey wailing...'We're Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, we hope you have enjoyed the show......' etc....

Sylvester SneakleyNovember 5th 2009.

And that rich woman's name really is "Sly"? You couldn't make this stuff up!

redfoxNovember 5th 2009.

The management clearly have screw loose. When Echo went to be a morning paper - all the punters were completely confused. These days by 6pm they're all wrapped up ready to be sent home. There's too much competition in the mornings by the nationals - that's why local news in the evening works dah? Now the Daily Post is a different animal - and I don't think it competes with the Echo. There needs to be some sort of management buy-out, by both papers. They can both stand on their own legs. Maybe Phil Redmond might assist the Post - and they need to raise the cover price - to cover all costs and do marketing! The Echo could probably fend for itself. We need some people power.. like STOP THE ROTTERS campaign...

ObserverNovember 5th 2009.

In its heyday the grand old Echo sold around 400,000 copies a day, and the Post did rather well also. Interestingly the Post has always been the poor relation with the company citing the profits from the Echo paying the bills.Of course in recent years under its existing editorial management the Echo has dumbed down, so much the early edition can easily be confused with the Daily Star. The management just don't get it: the more they dumb down and headline death and miserable stories the more readers turn away. That's no the critics saying so - circulation is now just over 90,000. Trinity Mirror management, both here and in London, are in denial. They need to address the editorial policy of the Echo, it is so poor it is scary. The Daily Post, however, has the potential to be a valued and much loved Liverpool newspaper, a real paper of record. It's approach to politics and business is far more grown up. TM insults the intelligence of Echo readers by wrongly assuming they want to read the sh*** they publish each and every day. Look at the circulation figure FF's sake, it's stating the bleedin' obvious. The management criticises the union for its stance, vote of no confidence, etc. What is the staff supposed to do when so many, through no fault of their own, face Christmas on the dole. It's as though nobody at Trinity Mirror will listen, or even cares.It's about time the city wig-wigs told TM what's what and repeat to the company the views they have about the Echo and the company. They are currently too afraid thinking, probably correctly, that if they publicly condemn the Echo they will be ex-communicated from its grubby little pages.Am I annoyed. I surely am, as we face living in a city with no or little credible media to fight the corner of its citizens.

Barry GrantNovember 5th 2009.

Is Phil Redmond's column going?

that'smrbollockstoyouNovember 5th 2009.

The writing was on the wall for the Post when the Echo changed its deadlines to effectively become a morning newspaper. Before that, the kamikazi policy of ramming the Post's price up to a ludicrous 60 pence while giving it away free to early morning commuters travelling into the city started the countdown to meltdown. It not only blew a foul wind in the faces of their most loyal readers but displayed a disregard for intelligence that would have merited a life's sentence in Ashworth for an act of criminal insanity. You only have to find out what a low regard the Post and Echo is now held by the local population by talking to any city taxi driver, the litmus paper for public opinion. This has less to do with the quality of journalism (although I like Tourman stopped buying the Echo when it turned its front page into a splash of banal headlines and no stories). The proper reporters that are left on both papers (sorry, MMJ's as they're now been branded ) are in despair at the palpable lack of respect for their work shown by Trinity management and the devastating affect it has had on the news coverage. It's a crying shame, especially for the Post, which five years ago cost a comparatively mere 32 pence (almost half as much) and had possibly the best selection of news and features of any tabloid in the country. It was also printed on high quality newsprint and er-hum in its home town and not in a Manchester satellite. Pulling its limbs off like a doll that's no longer wanted by a destructive child owner gives proof to the creditable rumour that Slyron and the beancounters at the highest level in Canary Wharf decided to wash its hands of regional journalism at least a year before the crunch came along to give them the perfect excuse they needed to do so. And then reward themselves for it. Sickening.

StephenNovember 5th 2009.

I gather the cuts at the Echo are being described by management as "refining the newsroom". I think George Orwell was once a journalist. Perhaps he got his idea of doublespeak from Trinity Mirror?

DigNovember 5th 2009.

Can I have a job? I could write in The Echo. Somebody got shot, a building collapsed, jobs have been lost/created, somebody went to jail and a celebrity was spotted in the city centre and repeat.

KeithNovember 5th 2009.

This has been written on the wall for a long time. Good on them for voting no confidence in the management. How much has this company spent on management consultants down the years to tell them how to run a business? Millions. The people at the top should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

DigNovember 5th 2009.

Minted like a lamb? That's just his Old Spice aftershave.

ObserverNovember 5th 2009.

Yes Cambo, and especially YOU!

CamboNovember 5th 2009.

Hey everyone! 5pm announcement to the staff at Old Hall St. The final salary pension scheme just got scrapped!

Voice of experienceNovember 5th 2009.

There's nothing worse than when Willie retires. But there are medicines for that sort of thing these days.

CamboNovember 5th 2009.

That would mean sacking the Echo executives. You aren't suggesting that, are you?

CorrespondentNovember 5th 2009.

Or how about the Professor Chucklebutty Echo? I hear he's minted.

CamboNovember 5th 2009.

That's a very good point. I'll mention it at conference

OHSNovember 5th 2009.

then there are the £60,000 of plasma screens in the newsroom that they bought earlier this year and which have never been switched on.

AnonymousNovember 5th 2009.

Happy Christmas to all our readers

Salad DazeNovember 5th 2009.

One more example of the corrupt and corrupting collapse of capitalism and not an asterix to be seen... If we accept 'globalisation' (ie more power to them that have), the market (a place where your pockets get picked), 'choice' (for those with dosh), all propped on the carcass of celebrity, alcohol and one-second digital attention spans.... this is what we get. Bring back The Rescue Man's Higson-drinking mates.

TourmanNovember 5th 2009.

I stopped reading the Echo when it changed format and the front page was just a headline. The paper style became so busy with different fonts and the photographs were over printed with words. I have not missed it and on the odd occasion I have read a copy that has been left on the train I am not impressed. O when "Willie" retired that really did see the Echo going to the dogs.

dubai byeNovember 5th 2009.

Still sending two journos to Dubai as well though eh? There are a lot of good journalists and snappers that this company are going to get rid of. Damn shame.

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