Katherine Levy: Sacking of Wallace and Weaver reveals Trinity Mirror's woes
By Katherine Levy, campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 14 June 2012 08:00AM
Trinity Mirror is doing a good job of creating its own headlines. First came the news that Sly Bailey, a chief executive who has been handsomely paid for reducing the share price by 90 per cent during her tenure, is to quit.
Then came the firings of the talented and well-connected tabloid editors Richard Wallace and Tina Weaver (who were told their dismissals were effective immediately). Interesting how business works, isn't it?
Trinity Mirror seems a bigger mess than a cream-and- meringue dessert scrambled up by a spoon-wielding three-year-old. Aside from the bizarre strategy of dismissing the editors of the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror, the timing of such huge changes feels rushed. The firings were ordered just one day after the new chairman, David Grigson, entered the circus (though he has been a non-executive board member since January). Without a new chief executive name even on the cards, restructuring now looks rash rather than considered.
And then there is the issue of what the Wallace and Weaver firings represent commercially. Making the decision to take the Mirror newspapers to a seven-day consolidated operation with one editor, Lloyd Embley (until now the editor of The People), ultimately responsible for the Mirror and Sunday Mirror brands could threaten the editorial distinction between the two papers. Trinity Mirror says that the papers will keep their separate titles, so the consumer will not see any change to their brands. But of course they will. Whereas before Wallace and Weaver no doubt had some healthy internal rivalry over who would get the best scoops, now an editorial overlord could get to decide at his whimsy where the scoops will go (or so says a Trinity Mirror press officer).
Despite the changes being implemented by Mark Hollinshead, the managing director of the group's national brands, the rumour mill says the company is plotting to hire an external digital native to replace Bailey. Hollinshead said the restructure represents "an important step change in meeting the needs of a multimedia publishing environment". That may well be the case - the Telegraph famously consolidated its newsroom into a multimedia spoke-and-wheel format years ago, which has paid dividends - but Trinity Mirror's move also represents cost-cutting and underinvestment in its root-and-branch print products.
So it is a continuation of an old story. Bailey failed to capitalise on the demise of News of the World by pumping marketing investment and competitive price points into the mix, and the result was that NotW readers saw the Sunday Mirror as a plug-in until The Sun on Sunday hit the press. These editorial changes smack of too thin, too fast rather than a smart new strategy to bring Trinity Mirror back to life.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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