Page last updated at 17:29 GMT, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

News publisher makes 150 job cuts

Stack of newspapers
The weekly newspapers' editorial teams will move to Manchester

MEN Media, the publisher of the Manchester Evening News (MEN) and 22 weekly titles in the north west, is axing 150 jobs, the BBC has learned.

The editorial offices of its newspapers in Accrington, Ashton, Macclesfield, Oldham, Rochdale, Rossendale, Salford and Wilmslow will also close.

The production of the group's weekly newspapers will be based in the MEN offices in central Manchester.

Falling revenues were cited as the reason for the losses.

The 150 job losses includes 78 journalists across 23 newspaper titles.

Compulsory redundancies

The media organisation said the largest cost within the business was salaries and it had looked at "every option short of job losses" but that it was "impossible to bring stability to MEN Media without substantially reducing the number of people we employ".

"While we will seek volunteers for redundancy wherever possible, we anticipate that compulsory redundancies will be unavoidable. Those people affected will be offered significantly enhanced severance terms", a spokesman said.

The local and regional press is facing the worst conditions in living memory as the economic downturn exacerbates and accelerates longer-term structural changes in the behaviour of advertisers and readers.

Places like Rochdale, Stockport, and Salford are losing the distinct voice that they were given by their locally-based papers
Jenny Lennox, NUJ Manchester

"The viability of local and regional titles was threatened due to steeply falling revenues. Publishers therefore need to find a sustainable new model if they are to survive," he added.

The group is also to look at ways of improving production of the papers to include better web and multimedia capabilities and giving away fewer free copies of the MEN.

Speaking about the media group's announcement Jenny Lennox, NUJ Assistant Organiser in Manchester, said: "Guardian Media have a monopoly on local journalism in Manchester and much of Greater Manchester.

"They are showing total contempt for the communities that have been the heartland of their business.

"Places like Rochdale, Stockport, and Salford are losing the distinct voice that they were given by their locally-based papers."



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