Daily Post assembly reporting change 'ludicrous', NUJ claims

Daily Post
Image caption A reporter based in Llandudno Junction will cover assembly matters - and transport stories - for the Daily Post

Journalists have urged the Welsh Assembly to scrutinise what they call the "ludicrous" behaviour of news publishers Trinity Mirror.

The Daily Post is scrapping its Senedd reporter and will cover Cardiff Bay politics from north Wales by a journalist also covering transport.

Trinity Mirror said it "remains committed to covering Welsh politics at a local and national level".

The National Union of Journalists said it risked leaving readers uninformed.

Trinity Mirror publishes the Western Mail, Daily Post, South Wales Echo and South Wales Evening Post, as well as websites including Wales Online.

A number of other positions at titles in north and south Wales are also under threat.

The NUJ has called for the establishment of a media and communications committee to scrutinise the industry.

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Media captionMartin Shipton said there was too much emphasis on writing about lifestyle and burger bars

Trinity Mirror said it would employ a new reporter to cover political and transport stories, based at its newsroom in Llandudno Junction, Conwy county.

But Martin Shipton, chief reporter at the Western Mail and chairman of the Trinity Mirror group chapel within the NUJ, said the publisher showed a "lack of commitment" to Welsh politics.

"We're very concerned about the proposals that they have put forward," he said.

"They are effectively suggesting that this role should be replaced by somebody who is based in Llandudno Junction whose primary responsibility will be as a transport or traffic correspondent, blogging about traffic jams on the A55 no doubt, and having as a secondary responsibility the coverage of the National Assembly.

'Fast changing'

"Well, we think that is rather a ludicrous proposal. It's impossible to cover the National Assembly for Wales from Llandudno Junction, and it shows a complete lack of commitment to political coverage."

Staff at the Daily Post have been balloted for strike action over proposals that will leave eight roles at risk of redundancy, while creating six new posts.

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Media captionYnys Mon MP Rhun ap Iorwerth says the coverage of events in the Senedd should be being developed

Plaid Cymru's Ynys Mon MP Rhun ap Iorwerth has written to the company asking it to look again, saying it was "hugely disappointing" and a "step backwards" in the reporting of Assembly politics.

A Trinity Mirror spokesman said it was committed to covering Welsh politics.

"We believe we are better placed to do this from the community in which we serve so we are appointing a politics reporter who will primarily be based in north Wales and will continue to write about the assembly and local government issues that matter to our readership," he said.

"We're constantly reviewing what our readers want to read and adapting our newsroom accordingly.

"There is no move away from hard news or politics but we are producing additional content that we know readers are also interested in about the communities around them, including leisure, lifestyle and people stories.

"The changes announced last month will see some roles going, but a number being created, resulting in a net impact loss of two jobs.

"It is vital for the future of the media, in Wales and elsewhere, that journalism and publishing adapts to the fast changing ways readers access and consume news and content."

The company said it was working closely with the NUJ and was committed to "strengthening our newsroom to better serve our audience on an ongoing basis".

In May, Trinity Mirror announced a number of roles would close at its Swansea-based newspaper, the South Wales Evening Post.

Economy Cabinet Secretary Ken Skates said it was "always concerning" when services came under threat but he appreciated the digital impact on traditional media and its "need to evolve".

He said there were plans to establish an expert independent body to advise on the future of media and broadcasting in Wales and the remits of assembly committees were also being considered.

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