24 July 2014

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Bath editor Holliday joins Northcliffe exodus

The editor who blazed the trail for daily newspapers switching to weekly publication is leaving his job after nearly seven years.

Sam Holliday, left,  oversaw the Bath Chronicle’s successful frequency change in 2007 which has since been copied by four Northcliffe sister titles, two of Trinity Mirror’s big-city mornings and now by five Johnston Press-owned dailies.

He becomes the eighth senior Northcliffe editor to leave the business in the past year.

The others are Jon Grubb (Lincolnshire Echo), John Meehan (Hull Daily Mail), Keith Perch (Leicester Mercury), Marc Astley (Exeter Express & Echo), Andy Cooper (Cornwall and Devon Media), Malcolm Pheby (Nottingham Post) and Alan Qualtrough (Western Morning News.)

Tweeting on Sam’s departure, John Meehan said:  “Bath Chronicle Editor Sam Holliday latest to go. Excellent editor & great bloke. Lot of talent has left the industry.”

Sam, who currently edits the Bath Chronicle, Somerset Standard and Somerset Guardian, said he felt it was the right time to seek a new challenge after nearly 30 years working in the regional press.

He began his career on his hometown newspaper, the Tamworth Herald in 1983 as a news reporter, before progressing onto being editor of the Walsall Advertiser, the Tamworth Herald, and then group editor of Central Independent News.

He became editor in chief of Bath News and Media, which includes the Chronicle, in 2005.

Said Sam: “I have had a fantastic time working in the local newspaper industry and I have been privileged to work with some amazing people as well as for a company in Northcliffe, who have always been incredibly supportive.

“I have reached a time where it is right for me to try something different, to forge a new path and to let someone else take on this exciting and challenging role.”

“Of course I will miss the job and the buzz of producing our first class papers but I will miss the people most of all.

“I have been very lucky to work primarily in two lively and forward-thinking centres  – Tamworth and Bath – and I have worked alongside hundreds of passionate, committed people over the years.”

Sarah Pullen Managing Director of Bath News and Media said: “It has been a privilege to work with Sam over the past six years and during this time he has been absolutely committed and passionate about the development of our newspapers.

“He has played a key part in transforming the Bath business and has been a strong link in joining both the business community and the public in changing the perception of our business. I will miss Sam very much and I wish him all the very best for the future.”

Sam will leave on June 1 and will play an active role in appointing his successor.

25 Comments

  1. Cherrywonder

    Not sure “blazed the trail” is the right expression, to be honest.

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  2. cynic

    Think you’ll find Sam has served considerably less than five years in the hot seat – I suspect there’s more to this than meets the eye…

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  3. poshminx

    Yes, taking one of the country’s oldest daily papers and driving it towards weekly pamphlet status – what a marvelous career arc.

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  4. Scott

    One presumes the pay-offs are decent because not one of these departing editors has really launched into the state of the industry, as they really should do in my opinion. Sad that the people who stand up for freedom of speech and demand answers from so many people haven’t got the guts to say what they really think. Surely they can’t all be pleased to have been shunted out?

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  5. thespy

    Blazed the trail…in making redundencies..nice!

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  6. Arthur

    There are these wonderful documents called Compromise Agreements that mean departing staff can’t say what they really think

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  7. Paul Wiltshire, Deputy editor, The Bath Chronicle

    Cynic: Think you’ll find Sam knows how long he’s worked here. Maths isn’t his strongest subject but I can vouch for the fact that he has been here six and a half years.
    Poshminx: Our “pamphlet” weighs in at 248 pages this week.
    Perhaps I could be the first person to sound a positive note by saying it has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with one of the nicest people I will ever meet. Good luck, Sam, from all of us at the Chronicle and its sister papers.

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  8. will

    Will you be going for the top job Paul?
    Sad to see the loss of a respected editor.
    It’s a really good paper and I’m sure the (small) team will continue the good work.

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  9. Dawna Stickler, Bath

    Sam has been an absolute trooper through all the upheaval.
    Best wishes to you. Dawna

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  10. popee

    ‘I have reached a time where it is right for me to try something different”

    Oh, just like me – from chief photographer to postman in one easy move

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  11. Siobhan Prideaux, Reporter, The Bath Chronicle

    I can’t believe people are being so negative about a fantastic editor who is so passionate about his paper. I would like to say that he has been a brilliant boss, incredibly supportive and that we are all proud to have worked with him.

    Although we are all sad to see him go, we wish him well for the future. Sam, enjoy your change of direction whatever you choose to do!

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  12. furryoldgreybadger

    Well said Paul. Don’t you get fed up with the twitterings of old, failed and bitter journo’s. I live near Bath and it’s a cracking weekly newspaper. Cheer up for goodness sake!

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  13. Eddie Taw, In the clouds

    Jealousy is a curse folks. Why not channel your energy into doing something positive, like working your way up the ladder. It’s very easy to be bitter and twisted and attack people who have made a success out of their careers. Truth is, those who do that are the kind of people who did not work hard enough to make a success out of theirs…

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  14. Paul Linford, HTFP

    I do try to avoid commenting on my own stories but I have to say I too am surprised by the amount of negativity on this one. Sam leaves the Chronicle a significantlly more successful product than it was before he took over and sadly there are not many editors these days who can say that. I would wholeheartedly endorse John Meehan’s comment as reported above.

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  15. Heather Threader, PA to Editor, Bath Chronicle

    It has been a pleasure to work with Sam for 6 1/2 years – yes it’s true – he has been here this long! I know leaving has been a tough decision for you to make – and it is your decision – but you have been a breath of fresh air for the newspaper and its staff. You ensured the papers survival by overseeing its smooth transition from a daily to a weekly – and you genuinely care about your papers, its communities and your staff.

    I doubt I shall have the pleasure of working for such a true gent again but I shall miss you heaps Sam and I wish you nothing but happiness in your future, hopefully exciting, adventures.

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  16. Sean Atkins, Australia

    Nothing wrong with us journos being cynical and not taking these things at face value.
    But I know this is Sam’s decision – and he is in the rare position of still enjoying the respect of both the workers and the big bosses.
    And having been a colleague of Sam’s more than 20 years ago in Tamworth, I can confidently say that just about everyone he has worked with continues to have the highest regard for him.
    Best wishes for the next chapter Sam.

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  17. Duffo

    Sam, are you heading to a daily or bigger paper? Good luck if you are. Pick the group very carefully, you are too good for which ever one you choose.

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  18. GladImOutOfIt

    See you on the Dark Side, Sam?

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  19. Last one out - switch off the light

    Look – lets get real about this!
    Sam did the best that he could with a decision made by “senior” management in Derry Street!
    I was around at the time and it was seen as a last chanced to keep the title as a quality paid for. Sure no body wants to see these things happen but they do and it was all about the SURVIVAL of a fantastic product! So lets all just let the guy “ride off into the sunset” and onto what ever he wants to do.
    Well done that man for staying the course during a difficult time!

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  20. the red postman

    It’s very rare for Paul Linford to come on here and comment on the reaction to a story :( Declaring a personal interest as someone who has known Sam for 25 years and worked with him at the start of my career, I think you would struggle to find any of his colleagues who has anything but the highest regard for this inspiring character who has motivated dozens if not hundreds of young journalists. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.
    It’s a sad comment on the state of the regional newspaper business when people like Sam have had enough.

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  21. Phil Shanahan

    Best of luck for the future Sam – you truly deserve it. Very happy memories of our partnership and friendship at CIN. Hope to see you soon.

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  22. Georgette McCready, Bath

    Sam Holliday is one of the few editors I have worked with who doesn’t operate a blame culture in the newsroom and, as such, he got the best of out people. He didn’t only inspire young journalists, he reminded a lot of we older ones why we went into this job and why we loved it. It’s very very sad that so many good men and women have left local newspapers in recent years – the industry is poorer for their going.

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  23. Chris Harding, Tamworth

    I was chief reporter at the Tamworth Herald when Sam first started work, and he has always been as refreshingly enthusiastic and committed to local newspaper and the communities they represent as he was on that first day. He became editor at the Herald at a time of huge upheaval and uncertainty, but always remained positive, optimistic and very supportive of staff during a very difficult period. He found himself in a position where he had to put into effect decisions made at a higher level, which were neither popular nor pleasant (just as he did at Bath at a later date).He left both papers in a significently better position than he found them. Like many other journalists, I lost my job through redundancy – but you cannot blame Sam for the current state of the regional newspaper industry.

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  24. Gary Phelps, Tamworth

    I was lucky enough to work closely with Sam for many years. He is, without doubt, one of the nicest people I have ever known, and an intuitive, instinctive journalist who nurtured and mentored so many successful young reporters and subs. I was then even more lucky. I inherited a great weekly newspaper from him, after it had benefited from years of his editorship. Whoever the next editor of the Bath Chronicle is, I can assure them that they will find the paper has been lovingly and expertly cared for under Sam’s guidance. All the best for the next chapter, Sam, and thanks for everything.

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  25. Steve Zacharanda, Birmingham

    Sam Holliday gave me my first start in journalism and it is a sad day when someone like him leaves the industry.
    He was a great group editor to work under as he loved hard news and had a great feel for what readers and journalists wanted and needed.
    If I was to get the sack from anyone it would be him and that is why despite having to carry out orders from above the vast majority of people who have worked with or under him very rarely have a bad word to say about him.
    And for those giving negative comments, dont hate the player, hate the game. The people who own these companies are destroying this industry not people like Sam.

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