The Sunday Mirror and Sunday People newspapers look set to begin sharing most of their content under new cost-saving plans at Reach.
Staff were told on Wednesday that the two Sunday tabloids would begin to share everything except the splash and pages four and five, Press Gazette understands.
Some redundancies on the titles are likely under Reach’s proposal to cut 200 roles across the business.
A well-placed source told Press Gazette part of the reason for the plan is to make savings on freelance and agency copy to fill the papers, but this is denied by Reach.
The Sunday Mirror had an average ABC-audited circulation of 217,140 in November while the People was on 77,300. Pre-Covid, in January 2020, they were on 367,244 and 139,698 respectively – representing a drop of 41% for the Sunday Mirror and 45% for the People in almost three years.
Both currently cost £2.20 and are largely reliant on newsstand sales over subscriptions. Some 94% of the Sunday Mirror’s circulation comes from single sales compared to 99.5% at the People.
The Sunday People was founded as The People in 1881 and was acquired by the Mirror Group in 1961. The Sunday Mirror began life in 1915 as the Sunday Pictorial and was renamed in 1963.
Reach chief executive Jim Mullen told staff on Wednesday “very tough operational decisions and strong actions on costs” were necessary because of a combination of “advertising weakness and prolonged cost inflation” creating a “double whammy” of challenges to the business.
According to the National Union of Journalists, some 102 editorial roles are expected to go in the total headcount reduction of 200. In total, 253 journalists have been told their jobs are at risk.
Also under the plans, nine Reach regional brands are taking a “newsletter-led approach”, with the Live sites in Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Sussex and Hampshire joining those for Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire which began a trial in November. There will be no job losses on the four sites making the shift.
Some other regional sites not taking the same approach of “a website supporting the newsletter rather than vice versa”, for example the Live brands in Surrey and Kent, will also be tasked with prioritising engagement over scale.
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