No news is bad news

Posted in journalism by allovermcr on March 20, 2009

The local cutbacks proposed by the Guardian Media Group can only be described as worrying. Following similar moves by newspaper groups nationwide the announcement had a certain inevitability, but the scale of the plans is pretty shocking.

Some (very few) of the cost-cutting measures outlined appear understandable – cutting the number of free papers given out at a time when commuter numbers are likely to fall appears prudent. Others, such as the proposal to slash the number of editorial staff on the MEN from 90 to 51, will almost certainly lead to a lower quality product even if pagination is also reduced (what’s the betting it’s not cut by the same percentage as that of job cuts, meaning the GMG journalists who keep their jobs end up filling more space). Likewise the proposal to close all outlying offices, which would see staff covering outlying areas such as Macclesfield and Accrington from central Manchester (or else filing stories from a rainlashed carpark in the middle of nowhere).

Last year’s accounts (pdf) reveal that GMG Regional, of which the Greater Manchester titles form a large part, made operating profits of £14.3m on revenues of £120.5m. Whilst this is likely to change significantly for the worse this year with advertising revenue dropping off further it is still a shame to see perfectly popular and profitable newspapers facing major cuts.

Sadly this comes down to the unique (in Britain) structure of the GMG. The Scott Trust exists to protect the Guardian and its journalism and as such other elements of the group will always bear the brunt when cuts are needed. Despite this, one can’t help but feel they risk killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

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  1. Dodson’s doings « AllOverMcr said, on May 18, 2009 at 21:43

    […] one can accuse the man of not shaping media markets, that’s for sure, but whether his actions best serve their local communities is quite another […]

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