18 April 2014

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Former editor hits out over ‘dismal’ conference turnout

A former daily editor has spoken out over the “dismal” level of attendance from serving regional news chiefs at the annual Society of Editors’ conference.

Steve Dyson, who edited the Birmingham Mail and Teesside Gazette, carried out an analysis of the 194 delegates at last year’s conference in Belfast for an article in industry magazine InPublishing.

He said only two of the 194 were serving editors of national titles while 29 were editors of UK local and regional titles.

Wrote Steve:  “When you put that number into the context of more than 1,100 regional and local daily and weekly newspapers across the UK, it really was a dismal attendance.

“None of these statistics is meant to criticise the conference, which debated several subjects of prime interest for today’s media world with an impressive list of speakers.

“But for many editors who did attend, the lack of contemporaries was noticed and much-criticised.”

SoE executive director Bob Satchwell said he accepted that the day-to-day pressures of work made it difficult for some editors to get away.

“We would always welcome more people to the conference. It is an important annual dialogue when editors get an opportunity to exchange ideas and simply think about their jobs away from the day-to-day pressures,” he said.

“But we also recognise that those pressures make it difficult for them to get away. That’s why we try to brief members with video and online reporting from the conference.”

“I am confident that the delegates reflected the views of the industry, and that we canvass views not only of conference delegates but, through regional briefings and email surveys, of editors everywhere in all parts of the media.”

Steve’s piece can be read in full here.

14 Comments

  1. Long-gone

    Unfortunately Steve Dyson has left the real world – life for editor’s (those who are left) is very different from the days of the Guild of Editors and those early days when it morphed into the SoE

  2. What on earth!?

    Good grief Steve. I’m an editor, and I’ve barely got enough staff to get a paper out as it is, without leaving my team a man down and jetting off to a conference on the other side of the Irish Sea.

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  3. Bluestringer

    Yeah well, no one has the time to spare any more do they.

    I’d love to spend three days boozing at the bar, gradually turning more and more melancholy as we reflect on how ghastly everything has become.

    Really, I would.

    But it’s just not possible.

    Report this comment

  4. redundant hack, lancashire

    Get real Steve. Most editors nowadays even on daily papers are often writers/news editors/proof readers/page senders. The days of the boss sitting in his office behind closed doors are long gone………..

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  5. Stevie

    Could I also throw in the huge cost of the event. It comes over as a load of cronies standing at the bar cahtting to no end. I’m an independent local publisher and it would ahve cost me hundreds of pounds for flights, the event and hotels (and not cheap, I might add). Hard to justify

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  6. Out-of-work Hack

    Do you think htfp could go a week without reporting on the pronouncements of Messrs Barron and Dyson.

    Dyson isn’t even in the game anymore.

    Oh, and in my years at the locals, I’ve seen some pretty shoddy, cowardly, management from editors and news editors. Why doesn’t he talk about that?

    Report this comment

  7. lensman

    How many editors have any real influence with their managements these days? Seems a bit pointless debating ideas if none of them are ever going to be implemented. Perhaps have instead a Society of Advertising Managers and Bean Counters.

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  8. furryoldgreybadger

    I have come to the conclusion that many former journalists are sooooo bitter! The good times are over, find something else to do for a living.

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  9. DAVE

    and then there’s the poor guy prosecuted for claiming his mileage…

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  10. Missed out, NI

    As editor of a local newspaper in Northern Ireland, I would have loved the chance to attend the conference on my own doorstep. However, as other people have stated, the cost and my own workload prevented me from getting along. These events seem to be for the associate and executive editors of the world who don’t seem to actually do much work.

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  11. Maisie Dobbs

    As the editor of a weekly paper I found almost nothing of relevance to me or my world, the last time I attended a SOE conference.

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  12. Pedant, Oxford

    Editors clearly need more time at their desks, Long Gone, if they stock apostrophes where they’re not wanted!

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  13. Pedant, Oxford

    Editors clearly need more time at their desks, Long Gone, if they stick apostrophes where they’re not wanted!

    Report this comment

  14. Peter Jeffery

    Another pedant, London
    Mind you, mixing veteran editors with more lowly ignorant members of our craft could encourage a greater insistence on checking facts and getting them right before going into print. Local and national papers still make awful howlers, like the Daily Mail survival story of a person in near freezing water with a temperature of 112C, when they meant of course F, giving a more realistic figure of a pretty cold 45deg F instead of one higher than boiling point. Didn’t the sub spot that one? Yes, I could go on, and on, and zzzzzz.

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