Trinity Mirror is set to close the office of the Hertfordshire Mercury and Herts and Essex Observer newspapers, moving journalists to the Essex Live newsroom some 30 miles away.
Staff at the former Local World papers were told of the plans to move them to Chelmsford, Essex, on Thursday last week, when Trinity Mirror also announced that 49 jobs were at risk as it continues to roll out its “Live” publishing model that separates print and digital newsrooms.
The Hertford office closure was not disclosed in Trinity Mirror’s official announcement of the latest Live website rebrands, also made last week.
As a result of the newsroom changes, Press Gazette understands that one senior multi-media journalist, one trainee reporter and one sports reporter will be made redundant from the Hertford office
Trinity Mirror previously moved the Herts and Essex Observer 13 miles from its original home in Bishop’s Stortford to the Hertfordshire Mercury’s office in Hertford in late 2016, affecting five members of staff, it was reported.
A well-placed source told Press Gazette: “Trinity Mirror have now shut two offices in Hertfordshire and will have no presence in the county at all.
“Chelmsford is 30 miles away, how can reporters be expected to cover breaking news effectively? The result of this cost cutting will be a much weaker local press nationwide.”
The source also pointed out that there is no direct train line between the two towns, with those without a car facing a journey of over an hour-and-a-half on two trains via London Liverpool Street.
Press Gazette understands the move will take place within 30 days following a consultation period.
Trinity Mirror declined to comment on the closure.
But in an announcement to staff, seen by Press Gazette, it said: “In order to continue the impressive audience growth of Essex Live and to future-proof our important print products, it is proposed to merge the Essex Live and Herts newsrooms.
“The Herts newsroom will close and journalists transferred to the Essex Live newsroom based in Chelmsford.
“The new, joint newsroom, led by brands editor Alan Woods, will adopt the Live principles successfully piloted in Birmingham.
“This means the newsroom will be split into digital and print teams. Trainee journalists will rotate between both teams to ensure a first-class grounding in all media.”
Last year another former Local World title, the Croydon Advertiser, was moved, along with three other newspaper titles, from its newsroom in Redhill, Surrey, to the Surrey Advertiser’s office in Guildford, Surrey, som 20 miles away.
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