'A sad day for the people of Reading' says rival editor as industry mourns loss of seven Trinity Mirror newspapers - Press Gazette

'A sad day for the people of Reading' says rival editor as industry mourns loss of seven Trinity Mirror newspapers

The editor of the Reading Chronicle has expressed sadness after news the title's main competitor in the town, the Reading Post, is set to close.

This morning, the Trinity Mirror announced that the Reading Post and Get Reading as well as the Wokingham Times and Bracknell Times were to close with the loss of 26 jobs in the area, including 17 editorial roles. 

Trinity Mirror also today announced the closures of three Surrey newspapers and the Harrow Observer, with the loss of 24 jobs in those two areas.

The Reading Post was an evening title until 2009 (as the Reading Evening Post) when it went twice-weekly.

The Reading Post has a current weekly circulation of around 12,000. Ten years ago the Reading Evening Post was selling 20,000 copies per night.

It was sold by Guardian Media Group to Trinity Mirror in 2010.

Get Reading is the highest circulation newspaper in Reading, with a free circulation of 65,000 (representing market penetration of around 54 per cent).

Trinity Mirror said it would be taking on ten online editorial staff, two commercial online staff and be launching an app in the Reading area.

The sole remaining print title for Reading, the Reading Chronicle, has four reporters and a news editor covering the area (total population: 240,000). It has a circulation of around 6,000.

Chronicle editor Lesley Potter said her paper has "every intention of continuing to publish newspapers the way we have been doing for two centuries".

She said: “First and foremost it is a sad day for the people who will be losing their jobs and the families affected by redundancy.

“It is also a sad day for the people of Reading to lose the Reading Post. We have been fierce rivals over the years, but we have always had a healthy respect for one another. However Trinity Mirror have made their own decision and that is very much up to them.

“We at the Reading Chronicle have absolutely no intention of abandoning print. We have been around since 1825 delivering news to the people of Reading and will have every intention of continuing to publish newspapers the way we have been doing for nearly two centuries.

“We believe our readers deserve to have a choice in how they access  their news, whether it’s in print or on our website, and we are going to carry on in that vein.

“We have just moved our head office back into the middle of Reading so we are investing heavily in our newspapers. We are not going anywhere, and we are proud to serve the people of Reading.”

The decision to close the seven titles was also condemned by the National Union of Journalists and numerous journalists on social media.

Ian Proctor, Father of the Chapel of West London and Bucks for Trinity Mirror, described the closure of the Harrow Observer as a "sickening blow".

The closures were described as a "watershed moment for the regional newspaper industry" by Martin Shipton, chair of the Trinity Mirror NUJ group chapel.

He added: "So far there is little evidence that an operation of this kind can generate the revenues needed to sustain a workforce of sufficient size to provide a decent news service. The speed at which this transition is taking place is very worrying. It seems the remaining journalists will be used as guinea pigs for an as yet unproven business model. There are good grounds to fear for the future of the sector."

The union's national organiser, Laura Davison, criticised the publisher for having "breathed no word" of the plans, "not even when meeting with the government minister of the future of the sector last week".

Davison said: "Journalists are not opposed to change but they are determined to stand up for local news when it comes to quality, localness and proper resourcing."

Group chapel officer Chris Morley said Trinity Mirror is "appearing to cross the Rubicon out of print".

He said: "The scale of job cuts is catastrophic and one wonders where the quality journalism will come from when so many journalists are expected to sacrifice their jobs. This announcement will send shivers down the spine of journalists throughout the group and beyond because we are still nowhere near a position where digital revenue by itself can sustain an infrastructure of quality journalism.”

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