Fears for Welsh news coverage as publisher announces deep cuts

Some of Reach Plc’s newspapers in Wales

There are concerns for the future of Welsh news coverage after the company that owns the Western Mail, Daily Post, South Wales Echo and South Wales Evening Post announced deep cuts.

Reach Plc is to cut 550 jobs, 12% of its workforce, because of falling income amid reduced demand for advertising in its titles.

The company formerly known as Trinity Mirror said its group revenue had tumbled by 27.5% during the second quarter due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Reach plc. said it intended to introduce a more centralised structure.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said the announcement was a “body-blow for our members in Reach” who had “shown heroic efforts to sustain the company” through the pandemic.

“It will be poor reward for hard-working journalists who have shown great flexibility and adaptability to uproot from their offices to switch to working from home, with all the stress and difficulties that have arisen, to then find there is no job for them in a redundancy process that they have now been pitched in to,” she said.

“Across the group, more than 2,000 people will now be officially placed at risk of losing their livelihood and that will be particularly tough for those who have spent weeks, if not months, on furlough under the government’s optimistically titled Job Retention Scheme.”

 

‘Revenue’

Reach Plc. owns hundreds of regional papers across the UK including the Manchester Evening News, Birmingham Mail and Liverpool Echo. The company said more people had been reading its products online over the past three months, but this was not enough to offset the loss in income.

“Structural change in the media sector has accelerated during the pandemic,” said Jim Mullen, the chief executive of Reach, adding that the company had seen increased adoption of its digital products, “however, due to reduced advertising demand, we have not seen commensurate increases in digital revenue.”

He added: “Regrettably, these plans involve a reduction in our workforce and we will ensure all impacted colleagues are treated with fairness and respect throughout the forthcoming consultation process.”

The news comes after newspaper group Newsquest announced a large round of job cuts, with 25 posts to be lost in Wales.

Its titles in Wales include the Western Telegraph, South Wales Argus, South Wales Guardian, The Leader, Tivyside Advertiser and Pembrokeshire Farmer.

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