AllOverMcr

Dodson’s doings

Posted in journalism by allovermcr on May 18, 2009

Today was the first day that all local GMG papers were produced from the company’s central Manchester offices. Offices in Accrington, Ashton, Macclesfield, Oldham, Rochdale, Rossendale, Salford, Stockport and Wilmslow have closed, with reporters holding ‘surgeries’ in their patches.

The man ultimately responsible for this move – a fine example of whatever the opposite of hyperlocal journalism is called – is Mark Dodson, chief exec of GMG’s regional newspaper division.

In a spare moment, AOM tapped Mr Dodson’s name into Google. The second link is what can only be described as a rather fawning profile of the man from a couple of years back, courtesy of the MEN website.

One line in particular caught the eye:

His passion for shaping media markets to best serve their local communities has been a driving force behind the growth and development of GMG’s Regional Division.

No 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 matter.

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Some good news

Posted in journalism by allovermcr on April 15, 2009

Five jobs are reported as being saved at the local GMG-owned papers following the severe cuts announced last month.

(via journalism.co.uk)

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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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