Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Manchester Evening News-good business move or the death of regional news

It is either the final death knoll of the regional paper or a sound business decision.

Yesterday's announcement that Guardian media group are finally cutting their ties with the city of Manchester must have made CP Scott turn in his grave.

After persistent rumour,the "unthinkable has happened at the Manchester Evening news will fall into the hands of Trinity Mirror.

To much wailing and protest by some who see TM as an asset stripper,the paper will move from its spacious glass house in Deansgate to the confines of Oldham.

Now for one,this may not be a bad move.The paper's journalism has been accused of being stuck in its city centre confines,unwilling or unable to respond to the needs of Greater Manchester as a whole.Maybe its journalism will get a better idea of what is going on as it looks down from the heights of Oldham across the urban surroundings.

As pure business sense,Roy Greenslade makes the point that

It is a regional newspaper, in an industry which is buckling under the twin pressures of the credit crunch and the growth of digital rivals. Guardian Media Group, with its small disparate regional network, was not the organisation to pull the MEN out of that hole.

Trinity,for all their faults,at least have a semblance of a regional structure.Whether that will increase the provision of news in Manchester remains to be seen.

The fact that it has been sold for just £7.4m and the cancellation of a £37.4m print contract that had 10 years to run shows how desperate GMG was to sell.How we have fallen from the heady times of multi million pound regional newspaper deals!

Finally what will happen to Channel M not part of the deal.It has suffered dramatic cost cutting in the last twelve months.Their state of the art news collecting vehicles are no longer seen on the streets of Manchester and with Urbis converting itself to football matters it will only be a matter of time before they move out of their plush surroundings.

Yesterday's move could be seen as a major turning point in the provision of news in the city.Maybe an opportunity for the hyperlocal scene to take off or even a fresh breeze blowing through the current evening paper.

As with nearly all areas of the country,the events show that traditional regional news models no longer apply.

Meanwhile GMG can concentrate on pouring their resources into their flagship paper which by all accounts continues to lose money

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