Regional Media: Bailey’s reality gap?

Browsing the Media Guardian feed gave me a sense of Déjà vu this morning.

“When the market turns and advertising returns, and it will, we believe we are better placed than anyone to benefit,”

So says Sly Bailey, chief executive of Trinity Mirror, as she addressed shareholders this week.

In what the Guardian call a ‘spirited defence’ of newspapers, Bailey dismisses the current fears for print as overreaction by ‘media pundits’

“Much of the pessimism about the newspaper market has been created by certain media commentators misjudging the market,”

Sound familiar.

Back in January Bailey was saying much the same thing to the Cardiff business club.

As the Guardian reported it:

“I would argue, however, that the immediate impact of this trend on advertising has been somewhat overstated.”

The chief executive again reiterated her belief that the current advertising downturn in newspapers was largely cyclical in nature and not a permanent structural change.

“We expect the cycle to move back into more positive territory. And we remain convinced that newspapers, as printed products, will remain a powerful medium for many years to come,”

But it’s obvious that not everyone in Cardiff was taken with her approach. As Greenslade reported in March (greenslades emphasis)

A university study has said what many newspaper commentators have been saying for years. According to a 120-page report by Cardiff school of journalism, media and cultural studies Trinity-Mirror’s short-sighted policy to “minimise costs while maximising revenues” is endangering the newspapers it owns. Without investment, it says, the papers will die.

Greenslade points out that the report was commissioned in conjunction with the NUJ:

The fact that the study was commissioned by the National Union of JournalistsTrinity’s ceo, Sly Bailey, that it shouldn’t be taken seriously. But Franklin and Williams have an impeccable reputation, and their impartiality and independence cannot be denied. So Ms Bailey and her executives should read it carefully.

Whether they have or not is worth debating. Trinity Mirror is investing in multimedia training for journalists.

But the disparity between Baileys message and feeling/reality on the ground seems all too clear.

Bailey may be consistent in the message that papers will always be where it’s at. Shareholders and business leaders may like that and Bailey may believe that her newspapers will be ready and waiting when that advertising does come back.

For many it doesn’t seem that way where the print hits the paper.

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