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MEN ditched by Guardian

The Guardian Media Group chucks away the Manchester Evening News: rumour that MEN will move to Hollinwood

Published on February 9th 2010.

MEN ditched by Guardian

Banging round the ether for ages have been unconfirmed rumours that Trinity Mirror were going to buy the Guardian Media Group Regional Media incorporating the Manchester Evening News.

Three separate individuals who have worked for both GMG and Trinity Mirror have told Confidential that the manner in which the latter treats its staff will come as a shock to GMG employees. They better batten down the hatches.

That has now been confirmed and the price is that of a top footballer: £45m.

Mind you given the business made an operating profit of nowt in the 12 months to December 2009, the Guardian Media Group (GMG) may have been extremely happy with the sum. According to one source: the transaction, due to complete on 28 March, involves GMG receiving £7.4m in cash, with the rest a handshake over Trinity Mirror releasing GMG from a long-term contract for printing MEN Media newspapers at its Oldham press.

The result of all this is that Trinity Mirror get 32 newspapers and associated websites including MEN Media which publishes 22 titles in the North West, and S&B Media which publishes 10 titles in the South, including the Surrey Advertiser and Reading Post.

The most prominent Trinity Mirror title up here is the Liverpool Echo. The company also owns the Daily Mirror.

Unsurprisingly Channel M hasn't been bought. This is a shame as they could have had a Liverpool version called Channel L, or even, as one office wag suggested, Channel RA.

Here's a couple of quotes from our friends at Crains Manchester Business:

Sly Bailey, Chief Executive of Trinity Mirror says: "GMG Regional Media is a perfect strategic fit for our Group. This acquisition, which includes the Manchester Evening News with its proud and rich journalistic heritage, together with the weekly titles and associated websites extends our reach across print and online and is a further step towards our strategic goal of creating a multi-media business of real scale."

Carolyn McCall, Chief Executive, Guardian Media Group, commented: "GMG is mandated to secure the future of the Guardian in perpetuity, and we have a strong portfolio which has to be in the right shape to achieve that goal. The Group board and the Scott Trust have made the decision to sell in light of these strategic objectives. GMG Regional Media is a good business and a publisher of important newspapers. However, we believe Trinity Mirror, as the UK's biggest regional publisher, is best placed to develop this business. This is an agreement that delivers real value for both parties."

As we stated on Confidential before Christmas (click here) shame on the Guardian Media Group for allowing this to come to pass. The baleful direction of the now departing Mark Dodson has brought this about, and that should have been corrected years ago.

What will happen now is anybody's guess but the word 'efficiencies' has already reared it's ugly head, as Trinity Mirror attempts to bring the two businesses closer together.

Three separate individuals who have worked for both GMG and Trinity Mirror have told Confidential that the manner in which the latter treats its staff will come as a shock to GMG employees. They better batten down the hatches, 'proud and rich heritage' or not.

Perhaps we'll end up with the Mancpool Echo News.

Last year Liverpool was up in arms because Trinity Mirror decided to publish its Liverpool titles in Greater Manchester. Meanwhile Rochdale and other Greater Manchester towns were angry because the MEN had decided to base their local Guardian Media owned papers in the city centre. It would be sort of poetic, if tragic, if the MEN became based in Liverpool.

However as we put this up it appears that the MEN will be leaving its city centre site and relocate to Hollinwood - where the Trinity Mirror printers are based. That's Hollinwood, east of the city centre, not Hollywood by the way, as our food writer Gordo just misheard it.

It's crazy times in media land.

Especially as The Guardian may have an underhand plot to launch a bespoke city website for Manchester, which could then use Channel M, as a broadcasting arm on Freeview.

In which case selling off the MEN, despite the fact that for many years the latter propped up the Guardian, might be a disloyal but sharp move. Weirdly then the Guardian will go into competition with the MEN.

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18 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

ADFebruary 9th 2010.

Why is it an underhand plot for the Guardian to launch a new manchester website? might those words be used becase such a site would be a mancon rival?

TrickyFebruary 9th 2010.

I don't think Mancon or anyone else is glad to see the Guardian pull out of Manchester. Very sad day

Smyth HarperFebruary 9th 2010.

Anon there is nothing in that article which suggests any gloating from Mancon, or them taking any pleasure in the continuing, agonising decline of the MEN.

SppoFebruary 9th 2010.

AD did you read the story. The underhand comment is about the fact that the Guardian have sold the MEN to Mirror lot and then will compete with it through their website. This site has people who are either thick or just don't read before commenting.

Jonathan Schofield - editorFebruary 9th 2010.

Anonymous, always whinging anonymous, why would you think that? Have you read the article above?

Jonathan Schofield - editorFebruary 9th 2010.

Anonymous, always whinging anonymous, why would you think that? Have you read the article above?

Tracy BFebruary 9th 2010.

It is funny that Manchester news will come from Oldham. But tragic.

Star FeeFebruary 9th 2010.

Better than from Liverpool though as the article conjectured.

ADFebruary 9th 2010.

SPPO, no need to call me thick.<br><br> I did read the article I also know that when buying a business its usual for the buyer to ask the seller for agreement that they will not compete with the buyer for a peroid of time. I dont belive that trinity would have forgotten to do that when about to spend £7m so I'm betting they have a good idea what competition they can expect to face from the guardian group. Besides they would be more worried by established competition like mancon than a new start up, so I dont see that there can be an underhand plot in that context.

Dave SpannerFebruary 9th 2010.

Well, generally speaking not competing with them would mean not releasing a new newspaper. Would a new website be construed as competition for the Evening News? I know a few of the MEN people (and I hope this doesn't work out badly for them), but they always said ManchesterConfidential wasn't their competition, so surely a Guardian built website wouldn't compete with them either?

AgricolaFebruary 10th 2010.

Sad that it has come to this. But Hollinwood's not too bad. It's got easy access to the motorway.

ArtsaboutFebruary 10th 2010.

But surely a paper needs to be at the centre of things. For the Manchester Evening News to based outside the city centre makes it look foolish.

DescartesFebruary 10th 2010.

I'd disagree ARTSABOUT, I think it's the reporters that have to be at the centre of things. To me it doesn't matter where the content is printed, so long as it's written by people at the very heart of city life, living and breathing it like the people that read their columns.

AnonymousFebruary 10th 2010.

All editorial is moving to Oldham. That includes the reporters. Once the Trinity regime kicks in, they won't be allowed out of the office much to cover the patch. It will just be rechurning press handouts from their desk where the line manager can see them. So they could be in India, really, for the difference it will make.

CorncliffeFebruary 10th 2010.

The Indian Evening News....that has a real ring to it.

RingoFebruary 10th 2010.

My ring has a real ring to it, but I doubt you'd want to look at it on the bus.

John LenonFebruary 10th 2010.

And that's why we never let him sing on the albums.

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