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Meehan quits as Hull Daily Mail editor

One of the highest-profile editors in the regional press is to quit his role following a management shake-up at his newspaper.

Hull Daily Mail editor John Meehan, left, is bowing out in the wake of the decision by parent company Northcliffe Media to scrap the roles of regional editorial directors and introduce new publisher roles at the group’s four biggest centres.

John, who had been regional editorial director for the group’s North-East titles, informed new managing director Steve Auckland in April that he felt the creation of the publisher role would be the best time for a change of direction in his career.

He is to be replaced in Hull by Neil Hodgkinson, currently editorial director of the CN Group and editor of the News and Star, Carlisle.

The surprise news of John’s departure was announced by Mr Auckland in a statement to Northcliffe staff this morning.

He said:  “In April, John Meehan informed me he’d like to step down from his role as editor of Mail News & Media later in the year. We agreed that this would happen when other changes in the Hull business had been worked through.  I can now announce that John will leave Northcliffe Media on Friday, 14 October.

“John is Northcliffe’s longest-serving daily newspaper editor, with 14 years’ service as editor of the Express and Echo in Exeter and then the Hull Daily Mail.

“In addition to being Editor of the Hull Daily Mail, John has been Regional Editorial Director of the North East for the past five years. John felt that, when the publisher position in Hull was advertised, this was the best time for a change of direction in his career.”

Said John:  “It has been an absolute pleasure and a privilege to have been the editor of the Hull Daily Mail and to have played a significant part in the development of the brilliant business we have in Hull.

“I have been fortunate to have worked with so many creative, talented and hugely committed colleagues in Hull and elsewhere in Northcliffe. I wish all of you continued success.

“My 14  years as a Northcliffe editor have gone by like a flash – it has been an amazing journey,  full of highlights and lots of fun. I will be sad to say goodbye to Northcliffe and to the Mail, but at the same time I am hugely excited by the opportunity to take my career in a new direction.

“I am also delighted by Neil Hodgkinson’s appointment as my successor. He is a very talented, vastly experienced and much respected editor who will be an excellent leader of the editorial operation.”

Under John’s editorship, the Hull Daily Mail has been crowned Yorkshire Daily Newspaper of the Year in five of the past eight years and was Daily Newspaper of the Year in the 2008 Regional Press Awards.

A passionate advocate of multimedia publishing, he also saw the Mail win the award for Publishing Innovation of the Year in the 2006 Regional Press Awards.

Neil Hodgkinson has previously edited the Lancashire Evening Post from 1996-99 and the Yorkshire Evening Post from 1999-2006 before taking up his current role.

He will report to Mike Pennington, who was appointed publisher of the Hull centre following the recent shake-up.

36 comments

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  • July 27, 2011 at 11:25 am
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    Neil Hodgkinson, you utter IDIOT. Fancy joining Northcliffe when you don’t have to. you will regret it.

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  • July 27, 2011 at 11:57 am
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    A sad loss of a terrific editor. Meehan is a newspaper man through and through with terrific loyalty to his staff and his city. You can’t say that about many these days.

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  • July 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm
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    Meehan could be pretty lonely at his leaving do. Looking forward to learning about the ‘exciting challenges that lay ahead.’

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  • July 27, 2011 at 12:37 pm
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    I had the pleasure of starting my career at the Hull Daily Mail when I was 18 and spent four great years there. John was always fiercely passionate about the paper and the region and I’m surprised to hear he’s leaving. There are strange things going on in regional media right now – and the future doesn’t look too bright for the humble hacks like me.

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  • July 27, 2011 at 12:45 pm
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    Sad news and a great loss for the Mail. Meehan was a proper and inspiring editor who transformed the paper from being a hardly also-ran to one that was hard to ignore. Those who harp on about the good old days of newspapers should look back at what the Mail was like 14 and more years ago. Little to celebrate.

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  • July 27, 2011 at 1:14 pm
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    Escaped – I worked there in the period of Nic and remember a different Meehan, like you. On a different note, I expected more comments on this. Methinks they are none too positive – censorship? Surely not … 😉

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  • July 27, 2011 at 1:21 pm
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    Escaped – I can only comment on my own experiences. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the HDM and I was sad to leave.

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  • July 27, 2011 at 1:33 pm
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    Escaped – In all honesty, as the HDM was my first newspaper, well, first proper job really, I had nothing to compare it to. I thought the high staff turnover and crazy shift patterns were the norm. But the team morale was always quite good when I was there. (The newsdesk on the other hand… well that’s a different story).

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  • July 27, 2011 at 1:37 pm
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    Scoop – yes, unfortunately I’ve had to delete some comments and edit some others (including yours). Call it censorship if you will, but please bear in mind that HTFP is just as subject to the law of libel as the rest of the newspaper industry.

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  • July 27, 2011 at 1:38 pm
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    Aghast – don’t deny he had certain excellent traits as an editor. I remember his handling of 9/11 was magnificent. But there was no room for individuality in that newsroom and no room for debate. A good editor (sometimes) I can agree with, but there’s more to life than just being able to tick that box.

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  • July 27, 2011 at 1:40 pm
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    Paul – I understand that. Glad you made it clear. It’s not quite like the response to some other editors who have left, is it?

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  • July 27, 2011 at 1:45 pm
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    The truth is the best defence against libel.
    He employed brilliant reporters and subs, but one could quickly fall from favour.

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  • July 27, 2011 at 1:45 pm
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    Meehan was a rottweiler but at least he knew what he was doing!

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  • July 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm
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    I worked under John Meehan for three years, and have very fond memories of my time at the HDM. His energy and enthusiasm for the job was inspiring, and I’m happy to wish him well with his future plans

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  • July 27, 2011 at 2:03 pm
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    Regional publishers are a must. “It’s certainly a big upheaval, but we simply have to meet the challenges facing our business.
    That’s in the interests of Northcliffe and all the people we employ now, and in the future.”

    Sound familiar? It’s what Mr Meehan said about subs the week the redundancies were announced back in 2009.

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  • July 27, 2011 at 2:45 pm
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    blimey what a loss for HDM, and Northcliffe. John was absolutely inspiring, yes he drove the team hard, but they don’t get much better than him as Editor!
    Good Luck John

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  • July 27, 2011 at 2:52 pm
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    Ah well, Paul, if you can’t beat em, join em. Yep, John, you were ace. I bow down before thee

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  • July 27, 2011 at 3:02 pm
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    Met Meehan once when i interviewed for a job there several years ago. It took more than two hours! Thought I’d done ok, then learnt it went to an internal candidate.
    Have to say have heard mixed reports about him, but you can only speak as you find and he seemed genuine enough.
    Got the impression very long hours were the norm at the HDM, although they pay slightly better than some other regional publishers I know.
    Some aspects of the paper need a rejig IMO. The “In Short” summary added to every page lead tells readers the blatantly obvious.

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  • July 27, 2011 at 3:03 pm
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    John took me on as news editor and drove me pretty hard – but in my dealings with him he was fair and excellent judge of news.

    I’m surprised by this – and hope he stays in newspapers because he’s a good newsman.

    If he does: newsdesk be warned, you won’t know what’s hit you! Lol.

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  • July 27, 2011 at 3:12 pm
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    An editor who would hold the front page (and every other one come to that) if it meant delivering a compelling product. Hardly his fault if the industry is dying around him.

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  • July 27, 2011 at 3:36 pm
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    NNB: “Met Meehan once when i interviewed for a job there several years ago. It took more than two hours! Thought I’d done ok, then learnt it went to an internal candidate”

    So I wasn’t the only one then !

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  • July 27, 2011 at 3:50 pm
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    I was there in your day Jeremy (hope you’re well), but can’t help wondering if we’re looking back through rose-tinted glasses. As I swapped Hull for the North East and you swapped Hull for Bermuda (!), we can’t have enjoyed it that much! And I seem to remember you being Hull born-and-bred, like me.

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  • July 27, 2011 at 3:56 pm
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    Is that all? My first interview was three hours and my second two hours.

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  • July 27, 2011 at 4:34 pm
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    Yet another quality editor lost as the industry’s brainless bigwigs take another step towards destroying the regional press.

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  • July 27, 2011 at 4:46 pm
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    Nic, hi! Hope you are well.

    Yes it was a slog, no question. But if you talk about JM you have to say that a spade was a spade with himL: it was all out front and you knew where you were.
    But from a personal point of view I learnt a heck of a lot – not just about newsdesking but about the company, management, training etc etc.
    And believe me from a news editor’s point of view I was happy when he took conference!

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  • July 27, 2011 at 4:49 pm
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    “John is Northcliffe’s longest-serving daily newspaper editor, with 14 years’ service as editor of the Express and Echo in Exeter and then the Hull Daily Mail.”

    Tells you all you need to know about Northcliffe. There was a time when editors lasted a damn site longer and were appreciated for it. Ho Hum.

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  • July 28, 2011 at 8:46 am
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    Incidentally I’m not sure John actually is the longest-serving daily editor in Northcliffe – pretty sure Spencer Feeney has that honour having been editor of Gloucester Citizen from about 1995/6 and then South Wales Evening Post.

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  • July 28, 2011 at 10:58 am
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    I interviewed for a newsdesk job with John several years ago it lasted about two hours – he offered me the chief reporter job which I declined.

    About a month later his news editor called and offered me the assistant news ed job which I also turned down for my own reasons. The thing that struck me about John was that he was clearly a firm old school journalist.

    He clearly had passion, and the thing that I liked the most – he held more importance in life experience than qualifications.

    I never worked for the man, so cannot comment on what he was like to work for, but generally I have heard good reports, if a little terrified. Journalism was never meant to be a cuddly industry

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  • July 28, 2011 at 12:34 pm
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    I went to Harlow Tech with John and despite him being a West Ham fan, the fact that so many people are commenting proves, whether you liked him or not, he’s made an impact, and put Hull on the map, so well done John, and all the best.

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  • July 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm
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    Good newspaper man, excellent news sense and wasn’t afraid to tell you if you cocked up…..in fact you would never make a the same mistake twice. I hope he stays within the newspaper industry

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  • July 28, 2011 at 2:07 pm
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    Another nail in the coffin of the regional newspaper industry! Editors like Meehan may have been tough and uncompromising on occasions but sometimes that’s what it takes to get a good newspaper on the streets. I suspect he ducked out after finally realising that the entire business really has been hi-jacked by yes-men and accountants and there was absolutely nothing that he could about it.

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  • July 29, 2011 at 11:05 am
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    So sorry to hear John is leaving. He was/is a great editor, fair, honest and tough. He knew a good news story better than anyone. This is a big loss for our regional newspaper.

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  • August 1, 2011 at 10:17 am
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    I worked at HDM for seven years and (mostly) loved it, late nights, weekends, sweat, tears and all (no blood, fortunately, at least not for me anyway). Learned tons from John and other colleagues at that time, and it serves me well now I’m working on the other side of the fence in PR. Would love to know where Mr M is heading! Wherever it is the locals had better watch out…

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  • August 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm
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    Good Luck John,

    Not that you will need it – it’s a sad loss for Hull!!

    Met you a few times with my old MD that had a few years at Hull and I can see with the restructure why you decided to pack it in.

    Looking forward to see where you are going as I sure you will appear very soon – may be with SAD or Mr Inman.

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