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2009 Publishing Layoffs Pass 1,000 As GMG Swings Axe In Home Counties

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imageSince the beginning of 2009, we’ve covered more than 1,100 job cuts in newspapers and magazines – and the pace of redundancies and title closures is quickening. Just 24 hours after telling its Manchester staff of plans to axe 150 jobs and close eight weekly newspaper offices, Guardian Media Group today announced it would cut another 95 and shut two newspapers in its other big regional business, Surrey and Berkshire Media. The Esher News & Mail and the Aldershot Mail, both paid-for weeklies, will shut; the Reading Evening Post, which sells more than 12,000 copies five days a week, will now be published just twice a week to save on production costs.

The GMG cuts take us well over the 1,000 mark so far this year for job cuts that have either been announced or already taken place in newspapers and magazines (the final numbers may be lower or higher depending on staff consultations). I wrote in January that we’d covered 1,000 job cuts in the last 12 weeks of 2008 — we’ve already well passed that mark in under 10 weeks this year. More after the jump…

— Why is this happening?: It’s the same story everywhere: ad revenue has disappeared and, with online so far failing to offset print decline, there’s no plan B. We understand that GMG Regional CEO Mark Dodson (pictured) told staff in briefings over the last 24 hours that the division will post a massive 85 percent drop in revenue profits in its full-year results due next month.

The National Union of Journalists has already accused GMG of milking its regional titles to fund the Guardian and Observer — and while it’s true that the regionals do fund Guardian Media Group to guarantee its future and independence, these cuts are born of a more urgent need for the regionals to make enough money to stay alive.

In its 2007/08 year-end results, GMG Regional Media made operating profits of £14.3 million, down from £19.4 million in 2007, on turnover slightly down at £120.5 million — so an 85 percent profit drop, if extrapolated across the unit, would give bring divisional profits down to about £2 million. And you can’t run a group of newspapers on that unless you severely and quickly change your business model, which is what GMG claims to be doing.

Disclosure: paidContent:UK’s parent company ContentNext is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Guardian News and Media.