The proposed savage cuts to the number of journalists at the Daily Record and Sunday Mail newspapers was raised in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon, at First Minister's Questions.
Sandra White, SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, raised the matter with First Minister, Alex Salmond, asking him whether he shared her concerns and urging him to set up a meeting to discuss the proposals in more detail.
Responding, the First Minister pledged to set up a meeting with the Glasgow Kelvin member and shared concerns over the future of the industry. Calling for unity, the First Minister urged all parties to work together to ensure that the Daily Record and Sunday Mail are given every support available.
Yesterday, it was announced some 90 editorial posts at the papers have been earmarked for redundancy, over a third of the total.
White said: “Both papers have a proud tradition in Scotland, in particular for their in-depth investigations, and we do not want to see this lost. I will be meeting with the Minister and representatives from the National Union of Journalists to offer them every support in their fight against these short sighted proposals’
“I hope that [publishers] Trinity Mirror will reconsider them, listen to the union’s wishes and bring forward alternative proposals which do not threated the future of these titles.”
To that end, she this morning submitted a motion, which reads: “That the Parliament notes with great concern the announcement by Trinity Mirror newspaper group of the axing of 90 journalist jobs at its Glasgow office of the Daily Record and Sunday Mail newspapers; considers that these newspapers have been, and remain, at the forefront of investigative journalism in Glasgow and Scotland, and urges the Scottish Government to do all it can to safeguard the newspaper industry in Scotland.”
Salmond is quoted by the BBC, as saying: “It does seem an extraordinary level of redundancy that's been contemplated in the Record and Sunday Mail, and, although I haven't always seen eye-to-eye with the Record in terms of its editorial view, nonetheless it's a hugely important Scottish institution.
“The coverage it's able to give, and has given, to Scottish news and current affairs has been an important part of the fabric of Scotland.”
Yesterday, staff received a letter from the director of national newspapers at Trinity Mirror, Mark Hollinshead, which read: “Just a few moments ago Bruce [Waddell, editor-in-chief of both titles] announced plans to his staff which will create one of the most technologically advanced and operationally efficient digital newsrooms in Europe. I want to take this opportunity to give you an outline of those plans.
“Central to the proposals is to ensure that the Daily Record and Sunday Mail continue to produce the best Scottish news and sports content for their readers.
“However, all media businesses, ours included, continue to experience extreme pressure from the weak economy. Advertising revenues are down and the cost of newsprint has soared by nearly 30 per cent in the past year.
“Furthermore, the media landscape continues to develop rapidly and the reality is that we must continue to adapt the way we work in order to safeguard the future of our newspapers – in this digital age no newspaper can afford to cling to outdated working practices. We have to evolve as the market for news and media itself evolves.
“We have already come some of the way with the creation of the multimedia newsroom in 2009, made possible by the introduction of ContentWatch. With our ongoing investment in this technology we are now at the stage where we can now fully harness the opportunities this technology provides.
“The plans are wide-ranging and include outsourcing the design and subbing of some features and magazine pages to a bespoke Daily Record/Sunday Mail unit at the Press Association; the sharing of non-Scottish features and news with sister titles the Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People; an editorial restructure where live content and advance content will become a combined unit where the entire focus will be on providing the best Scottish stories and features.
“Importantly, the generation and production of Scottish news and sport pages all remain at Central Quay. The editorial team in Scotland will be responsible for co-ordinating the outsourcing of pages and deciding which national stories are appropriate for our readership.
“We anticipate that these changes will result in around 90 editorial job losses and the company has now entered into a period of consultation with affected staff.
“These plans will allow our papers to increase their focus on high-quality Scottish news and Scottish sport, while at the same time we will emerge with an editorial structure fit for purpose in this fast moving digital publishing environment.”