There was talk of a radical relaunch of The Birmingham Post when I joined in 2001 and just about every year until I left in 2006.
Now the bold changes are actually about to happen [Edit – my second take on the plans is here].
And they are certainly radical, impacting across all TrinityMirror’s titles in the Midlands.
The plus side is the investment in technology and an attempt to create a model better equipped to take the various newspapers forward to a more secure future.
The down side – which tends to dwarf the positives – is the price of the £7.5m investment in technology. An estimated 65 posts will be made redundant.
There is always a price to pay for such radical change, but these redundancies come on top of a prolonged period of cutting back on jobs and recruitment freezes. Certainly the Post newsroom I left in 2006 was a lot more sparsely populated than when I had joined it five years earlier.
The announcement – particularly the Post’s move to tabloid (sorry, compact) format, concentration on business and decision to drop the Saturday edition altogether – raises all sorts of questions.
Some of my initial thoughts include the likes of:
- Can these titles afford to lose such experience?
- Is this pool of talent truly expendable?
- In this brave new world is it only the internet-savvy and social media aficionados who will survive?
But there is so much more information that needs to come out about the new structure, new ways of working, new style of journalism the plan involves before answers to these and any other questions can be given.
As a former feature writer on the Post, part of me will obviously feel a glaring mistake has been made – particularly as Saturday was always the main vehicle.
And yet none of these plans are surprising and I can understand the thinking behind each and every one of them.
Agreeing with them is, obviously, a whole different issue.
Radical change is what the newspaper industry has required for some time.
TrinityMirror has delivered it in the Midlands.
Whether the price of such change is worth it will remain open to debate.
[Edit: The Post’s editor, Marc Reeves, has now written an extended piece on the plans and a blog about the need for change.]
[…] I will post my thoughts a bit later, so if you want to leave some questions in the comments, I’ll try and answer them. Suffice to say there are some very interesting times ahead. – Birmingham Post news story on the relaunch (we will update this during the day). – The Guardian’s report on the wider Trinity Mirror changes. – Brand Republic report. – The Journalism.co.uk report on the Birmingham Post… – …and it’s report on the wider Midland announcement. – Holdthefrontpage.co.uk focuses on the new roles for our editors. – Money invested and jobs lost lead in Press Gazette report. – Paul Groves gives his reaction to the announcement on his blog. […]
As an outside observer, I’m wondering if a selection of those ex-employees will be looking to the web as independent publishers, writers and so on, perhaps in a collective manner. It wouldn’t be the first time a viable venture came out of a change of structure. So the question is, how might they make the transition?
dp: I would dearly like to believe that could happen.
I’m battling with a curious mixture of hope and negativity about these plans.
The hope is based on the fact that something major has been long overdue, finally it has happened and it should provide a great opportunity. I find myself slightly envious and wishing these changes had happened a couple of years ago (although that soon passes).
The negativity is based on a concern that these changes are going to come as a massive shock to many within the industry as they’ve effectively been burying their heads in the sand.
Making the transition is going to be hard for some who remain on the paper, even with the support and training they get.
For some who lose out it might be impossible to make a transition.
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