First Editorial. Now Printing Merger Is On Agenda

JOHNSTON Press
has struck a deal with rival newspaper group Trinity Mirror to start printing its titles at Cardonald
in Glasgow, according to insiders.

If true then it throws the very future of
the state-of-the-art presses at Newhaven in Edinburgh – which currently prints the titles – into the balance.

And it will lead to further speculation
that the two under pressure companies will look to work even closer in other areas ranging from
distribution to sharing ad revenues and even content across printed and digital
platforms.

It would also lead to more questions on whether the two groups are looking to broker a wider reaching deal over their stables of national and
weekly titles which together they currently dominate.

The government announced only last month that it is looking at the possible relaxing of ownership rules governing newspapers and opened consultations with the Office of Fair Trading, Ofcom and other interested parties.

Johnston is already understood to have put its Irish titles up for sale.

It owns the Caledonian Offset Ltd presses in Edinburgh which prints among other titles Scotland on Sunday, The Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News. It also prints weekly titles and some contract jobs.

Those close to the plant say that Scotland on Sunday is expected to be the first titles to move to Cardonald – operated by Trinity Mirror Printing  – which would suggest it may have to switch to a compact format like its sister title, The Scotsman.

None of the speculation has so far been confirmed, but comes from usually reliable industry sources.

The revelations come just
before Trinity Mirror is expected to record a set of its poorest ever financial
results on Thursday.

Some are now openly questioning whether this is the
reason the announcement over changes at the Daily Record and Sunday Mail was brought forward to Monday not least since the new ContentWatch system doesn't go live until Autumn.

But it is how the changes that affect them,
not the share price, that remains uppermost in the minds of staff.

Bruce Waddell will be in charge across both
papers, that much is confirmed.

Yet rather than having two deputies working under him for the Record and Mail as had been claimed previously, others suggest he may instead opt to have a series of day editors on rotation.

Murray Foote, the current deputy at the Daily Record, has been leading the development of ContentWatch with key figures on news, design and production also being trained up on the new system. 

ContentWatch is being re-written
specially for the titles, adapted from the one that was initially designed for
advertising only and largely template based.

The main redevelopment has been in adapting the code to make it
easier to editionalise.

The front end of the system is said to use an Adobe based In-Design style system, with In-Copy used for content alongside
traditional programmes.

It is this that staff will need trained up
on.

A centralised newsdesk will be introduced with a Head of News, speculated to be current Record news editor Andy Lines, and a new post of Head of Images created for video and photography.

Sport and production will also be merged, some staff being retrained, but others among the 70 or so casualties being called for with union negotiators now hoping to see that drop to nearer the 50 mark.

Management aim to allow both the daily and Sunday to retain its own distinct features flavour. But it is now understood that one option being looked at is a centralised Advanced Copy desk providing editorial to both.

Staff at The Scotsman group are also resigned to their own production and subbing pools being merged.

At a meeting of the Daily Record and Sunday Mail's union chapel yesterday they were said to have been "gasps" as the numbers to be lost from each department were revealed, including the decimation of the re-touch department.

Staff called for the management to be urged to lift the threat of redundancy so further talks could take place.

Trinity Mirror opened at 42p and began rising quickly early on following news that it is expanding its mobile news sites.

Johnston Press opened trading today stranded on shares of 6.00p – down from a 52wk high of 219.25p



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1 reply

  1. Why would it have to go ‘Compact’ if it moves to cardonald? What buffoon of an industry ‘insider’ wrote this?Johnston press have so much spare capacity in diddington (Sheffield)that it could swallow up all of the weekly’s and contract work, with plenty of room to spare! Hence a printing supplier is required in the central belt (Or even Dundee!)for the dailies.

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