TMS sends journalists home on biggest news day of year
15 July 2005
Journalists at more than 60 weekly newspapers were banned from going out to report on the London bombings last Thursday amid fears for their safety – even though some were as far away as Kent and Buckinghamshire.
Staff at Trinity Mirror Southern titles – including the South London Press, The Wharf, the Croydon Advertiser, the Reading Chronicle and even the Whitstable & Herne Bay Times series – received an order to come back to the office or go straight home on Thursday afternoon.
A member of staff who contacted Press Gazette said the decision “went down like a lead balloon” in newsrooms as even journalists who were on jobs unrelated to the bombing, miles from London, were recalled.
The email, which was sent to all TMS newsdesk staff at 12.22pm by edi- torial director Marc Reeves, said: “Staff safety is the NUMBER ONE priority at this time.
“Please call back into the office anyone out in the field whether on bombrelated stories or not. Alternatively, send them home if they are closer.
“For staff in the office, take a view based on local police advice whether and when to send them home.
“You must account for every member of staff under your care today.”
A reporter at one of the weekly papers, who asked not to be named, said: “Even reporters covering village fetes out in the middle of nowhere had to go home.
“With some of the orders we get, it has long been believed that Trinity Mirror head honchos forget that we actually work hard to produce local newspapers, and this one just about summed it up.
“During the biggest story of the year,London TMS reporters and photographers were recalled to their offices and then sent home as their offices were shut.”
A spokesman for Trinity Mirror Southern said: “Every TMS title is a weekly, and the deadlines for all but three had passed. Those that hadn’t gone to press already had extensive coverage of the morning’s events filed.
“Therefore, after consulting with senior editors from across TMS, the managing director and editorial director took the view that there was no immediate need for employees to be out on the streets.
“They decided the responsible course of action was to recall all field staff to their offices or to send them home.”
He added that papers such as TMS flagship the South London Press – which comes out on a Friday – achieved “superb” coverage despite the early end to the day.