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Trinity Mirror pulls back from its online targets

rinity Mirror has backed down from plans to force reporters to have individual online audience growth targets after several NUJ chapels voted for strike action in protest against the initiative. There will still be team


targets for online audience growth and journalists will also have to have regular reviews of their performance and discuss ways in which they can build their web traffic. They will also be able to opt in to personal audience targets voluntarily. The company faced a backlash against the plan from journalists who feared it would encourage crass ‘clickbait’ style content. Union members had been concerned the individual targets would have an impact on the culture of co-operation and collaboration in the newsrooms and believed they would harm the teamwork

necessary for quality journalism. They also believed they

could undermine public interest journalism and long-term investigative work, because reporters would feel under pressure to go for quick hits and populist stories. Members felt constant monitoring and raising of targets would create even greater stress when newsroom staffing is at its lowest for decades. Journalists on Trinity Mirror titles including the Daily Post in Wales, the Liverpool Echo,

Birmingham Post, Newcastle Chronicle and Manchester Evening News voted to strike in protest at the targets. Neil Benson, Trinity Mirror

editorial director of regionals, confirmed that compulsory individual audience targets would be shelved. In an email to staff he said: “I am pleased to say that after constructive discussions with the NUJ, we have agreed what we believe to be a mutually acceptable way forward on audience goals. “We have agreed that individual audience goals will not be set at this stage. We will be going ahead with monthly one-to- one meetings between writers and managers, to review performance over the previous month and to discuss how personal audiences can be built, using proven best practice and, where appropriate, supported by training.”


the Telegraph told staff that the monitoring was intended to help monitor energy usage and to ensure the newspaper was making the “best use of our space in the building”. But amid continuing protests, management circulated a memo saying that the under-desk sensors would be removed


ewsquest must address problems with working

practices at its production hubs to protect quality journalism and to safeguard staff, the NUJ has warned. A motion passed by the Newsquest group chapel

said the working system was flawed and put stress on staff working in the hubs and those on individual newspapers because of the huge volume of work and lack of communication between them. In January, Hold the

Front Page reported that Newsquest group production director Leighton Jones had emailed regional editors and managing directors to say that headline writing, sub-heads and straplines would “no longer be written in the copy-editing hubs”

and instead be done by local centres. But shortly afterwards other reports indicated the proposal had been shelved so that the hubs would continue to write headlines. The company has not made an official announcement.

Telegraph removes monitors under desks

he Telegraph has removed devices that monitored whether journalists were at their desks. Hours after the journalists discovered the devices,

immediately “in the light of feedback we have received”, though some staff had already “disarmed” them by removing the batteries.

Members felt constant monitoring and raising of targets would create even greater stress when newsroom staffing is at its lowest for decades

in brief...

DUCHESS GUEST EDITS HUFFPOST The Duchess of Cambridge is focusing on children’s mental health while guest editing the Huffington Post UK. She has campaigned against the stigma surrounding childhood mental illness, and is a patron of several related charities. She will also highlight the work done by parents, teachers, researchers and mental health professionals.

FIRST NEWS STARTS CAMBODIA APPEAL First News, the weekly newspaper for children, has launched an appeal to help Cambodian children go to school as it marks its 500th edition. Nicky Cox, editor of the title which has a circulation of nearly 80,000 said the appeal was devised after chief executive Sarah Thompson went to Cambodia and saw how some children were disadvantaged by the poor conditions they lived in.

TIMES LAUNCHES INTERNATIONAL APP The Times and The Sunday Times has started The Times of London Weekly, an international digital app that offers a world view from London. The new app will pull together journalism from both titles in a single digital edition, published once a week on Thursdays.

CARDIFF STARTS FREE COMMUNITY COURSE The University of Cardiff has begun a free online course in community journalism taught by former BBC director of news Richard Sambrook. The course is run with FutureLearn, part of the Open University. It includes creating a website; different forms of community; and building an audience

NEW HYPERLOCAL FOR MERSEYSIDE Former North Wales Daily Post editor Mark Thomas and former Press Association journalist Emma Gunby to launch a hyperlocal website in West Kirby, Merseyside. They are licensing a website model set up by freelance David Prior when he established Altrincham Today in 2014.

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