NUJ campaign to save Burton Mail website gains momentum

Journalists on the Burton Mail have written an open letter to management and readers saying that Trinity Mirror’s plans to close its website and merge it with the new Derbyshire Live website will be huge mistake.

NUJ campaign to save Burton Mail website gains momentum

As reported by the National Union of Journalists: The NUJ’s chapel said: “Our main concern is that the new website will be branded Derbyshire Live – while the town of Burton is in Staffordshire. The Burton Mail covers an area of East Staffordshire, north west Leicestershire and south Derbyshire with the majority of its content deriving from areas outside of Derbyshire.”

The chapel said the change will alienate local readers and have a severe impact on the identity of the Burton Mail, saying: “With both the Burton Mail and Uttoxeter Advertiser websites falling under the Derbyshire Live branding, areas such as Tean in the Staffordshire Moorlands, Ashby in Northwest Leicestershire and Fradley in Lichfield will all fall under a Derbyshire banner – yet each is 35 miles, 20 miles and 21 miles respectively from the city of Derby.”

Derbyshire is in the East Midlands, but Burton being in Staffordshire is part of the West Midlands. It has its own MP and is represented by West Midlands MEPs.

The Derby and Burton branch of the National Union of Journalists has now written to David Grigson, Trinity Mirror chairman, to put pressure on the news group to change its mind. The letter said:

"Burton is the leading town in East Staffordshire Borough (population 117,000), whose council provides some services, while important issues such as education, libraries, social services, transport and public protection are provided by Staffordshire County Council from its headquarters at the county town...

"Apart from local government, there are many other important aspects of everyday life that are based in Burton or Staffordshire and not Derbyshire. These include courts and the probation service, military units and organisations, and even churches – Anglicans are part of Lichfield, not Derby Diocese and Roman Catholics are in the Archdiocese of Birmingham. The area is even served by a separate water company."

The plans are part of the newspaper group’s plans to roll out a digital-only strategy based on Birmingham Live and could result in at least 49 redundancies. The NUJ understands that 16 roles will be made redundant by the creation of Derbyshire Live.

The Burton Mail chapel letter said:

“We are aware that similar integrations have already happened in relation to the Lichfield Mercury and Tamworth Herald websites now forming part of the Birmingham Live branding.

“We are also aware from chapel members at these titles that this integration has resulted in a loss of identity for the titles. It is now almost impossible when visiting the Birmingham Live website to navigate to specific Tamworth or Lichfield stories without visiting via a direct link from social media.

“While the move for the Tamworth and Lichfield titles has been devastating for the brand, both are weekly newspapers. From our knowledge, the Burton Mail is the only paid-for daily newspaper to lose its branding.”