Trinity Mirror has abandoned plans to introduce individual digital targets for journalists.
Journalists from titles including the Liverpool Echo and Newcastle Chronicle had recently voted to strike in protest at the plans, which were being trialled at the Manchester Evening News and were due to be rolled out this month.
But after what it called “constructive” talks with the National Union of Journalists, Trinity has told staff it will instead introduce monthly one-to-one meetings between writers and managers to review progress on building digital audiences.
In an email to staff, Neil Benson, editorial director, regionals, said: “I am pleased to say that after constructive discussions with the NUJ, we have agreed what we believe to be a mutually acceptable way forward on audience goals.
“We have agreed that individual audience goals will not be set at this stage. We will be going ahead with monthly one-to-one meetings between writers and managers, to review performance over the previous month and to discuss how personal audiences can be built, using proven best practice and, where appropriate, supported by training.
“We aim to begin one-to-ones from the week commencing January 25. In addition, any members of staff who would like to opt in to individual audience goals, on a trial basis, will be welcome to do so.
“In the initial weeks, the one-to-ones will be run by senior editorial staff, usually (but not exclusively) the editor, executive editor or head of digital. When the process is bedded in, content editors will take over responsibility for one-to-ones.
“Team targets, which have been in place for up to a year in many of our newsrooms, will continue to be used as now.”
The plans were part of the regional publisher’s Newsroom 3.1 strategy, which is aiming to transform its regional titles with a new digital-first approach.
General secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “As a union, we recognise the company’s need to drive its digital engagement and audience and our members want to work with the company to achieve this mutual aim through constructive collaboration in the workplace.
“We have now received significant reassurances from senior managers over the use of one to one meetings in this process and how these will be conducted in a way that retains the confidence of journalists.
“There will be further discussions early in the new year to refine this following further feedback from members through their chapels.”