Management at the Manchester Evening News group, which is owned by the Guardian, want to make nearly 80 journalists redundant - roughly a third of its editorial staff - and close all the offices of its Greater Manchester weekly newspapers, thereby depriving Manchester's population of its local voice. These are savage cuts - the biggest of their type in the country - and an assault on local democracy that will tear apart the fabric of Manchester's community news. The newspapers affected are: Accrington Observer Oldham Advertiser North and East Manchester Advertiser Rossendale Free Press Middleton and North Manchester Guardian Tameside Advertiser and the Glossop Advertiser South Manchester Reporter Stockport Express and Times Salford Advertiser and the Prestwich and Whitefield Advertiser Macclesfield Express and Times and the Poynton Times Wilmslow Express Trafford Metro News Rochdale Observer Heywood Advertiser The plans would mean all weekly papers in the MEN group, from as far north as Accrington to as far south as Wilmslow, would be based at its Deansgate office in central Manchester. Journalists would be expected to cover their areas from Manchester and there would be nowhere for local people to drop into in their local area. Inevitably this will mean that the quality of Manchester's local papers will suffer; journalists will no longer be able to get a grasp on local issues and will rarely, if ever, be able to cover council meetings or court cases - a role which is an intrinsic part of local democracy. This is devastating not only for the staff involved, but for Greater Manchester as a whole, and must be fought. The cuts are being done in the name of the Scott Trust, which was set up to safeguard the Guardian's liberal principles in perpetuity. Strangling Manchester's newspapers and so suffocating the region's democracy is not the way to go about preserving those principles.
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