By Paul Linford
Journalists at the Crewe Chronicle have been told they will have to work from home with their office due to close in May.
The Crewe Chronicle office is being closed in what the company says is an pilot project to see whether costs can be reduced without sacrificing jobs.
Trinity Mirror has defended the move on the grounds that it is investing in “journalism, not bricks and mortar.”
But the National Union of Journalists has attacked the plan, claiming that journalists will lose the benefits that come from working as a team.
Eight staff at the Cheshire weekly are affected by the move which is due to take effect at the end of May.
According to the NUJ, the idea could be rolled out to other TM centres.
The NUJ says staff were told the move is “not primarily driven by financial reasons but as an experiment to see to see how journalists might be able to work in isolation.”
The union’s Trinity Mirror Cheshire chapel says the newspaper should retain a physical presence in the heart of the community it serves, and is concerned that its journalists will lose the benefit of the teamwork that results from working alongside colleagues in an office.
Chris Morley, Northern & Midlands organiser, said:
“The manner in which the company is seeking to ram through a very significant change for the way journalists work with what appears to be a veneer of consultation is shoddy.
“They are giving the impression that it is a done deal and they will accept nothing less, but our members are saying this is not good enough and want to explore alternatives properly.
“Thriving local journalism is about teamwork and not the atomisation of editorial departments that trap journalists into “news prisons” where they don’t have clear access to support, training and the buzz that comes from working in a newsroom.
“We believe this will be damaging not only for our members but crucially for the titles they support – and will be badly received by the community they serve. We want the company to demonstrate it is willing to look at all reasonable options to retain a town centre office.”
A Trinity Mirror spokesman said:
“This is a pilot to evaluate how working differently, and utilising available technology can enable us to control costs without reducing the number of journalists we employ.
“We’re harnessing the benefits of mobile technology to allow reporters to work in local markets and remove costly infrastructure.
We want to invest in journalism not bricks and mortar.”