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The regional newspaper industry has been hit hard over recent years, with advertising on the slide and cuts being made left, right and centre.
And now the Daily Mail and General Trust have announced that they expect around 1,000 people to leave the company over the next 12 months at their regional arm Northcliffe. That’s double the number predicted back in November last year, although they have claimed that many of that number have already left the company.
As Northcliffe own the Lichfield Mercury series, we can only hope that this news doesn’t impact too heavily on a newspaper which has managed to keep producing a decent product despite the turbulent market conditions.
Given that the Mercury has the still-lucrative property advertising market sewn up in Lichfield, it would surely be self-defeating for them to drive the editorial quality of the product down and jeopardise this position. But as a former regional journalist, common sense rarely seems to have any bearing on the thought process when it comes to this sort of news.
The usual line that’s trotted out whenever newspapers make cutbacks in staff is that businesses are being streamlined to meet the demands of a new digital media world. But regardless of what processes you put in place, newspapers still need news – and the only way to get the good stuff is to put bodies on the ground.
The last thing Lichfield needs is for the Mercury to become nothing but a press release re-hashing factory like so many other regional newspapers have.