20 October 2014

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Redundancy for editor after Twitter campaign fails

A weekly editor who was told his role is to be made redundant the day after his paper posted a 2.1pc sales rise has today officially left his post after a Twitter campaign to save him failed.

The Whitby Gazette was one of only 13 paid-for weekly titles across the whole of the UK to record year-on-year increases in circulation in the second half of 2012 according to the latest ABC figures, released in February.

But its editor, Jon Stokoe (pictured), was told the following day that his job was under threat. He has been on gardening leave ever since and will now start a three-month notice period.

A Twitter campaign was launched after the news broke by friends and supporters in the town who wanted publisher Johnston Press to reconsider the decision – to no avail.

Jon told HTFP he was “gutted” to be leaving the paper, which he started out at on work experience in 1991 and finally joined the staff as a trainee in 1995.

“It has been very frustrating and disappointing. This has been my life since 1991,” he said.

“This is the start of a new chapter now. I’m not sure what I am going to do but I’m open to offers.

“What I do know is that I want to stay in journalism – I trained to be a journalist and it’s all I have ever done. I’m passionate about it, I love writing and meeting people.

“I may have to travel of course but I am open to that.”

Jon, 38, had edited the Gazette for the past two years, following an 18 month stint at acting editor.

He has lived in Whitby since he was a boy.

His position at the Gazette was put at risk when publishers Johnston Press decided to combine his role with that of Scarborough News editor Ed Asquith.

Ed, who also edits the Malton and Pickering Mercury and Filey Mercury, has now taken charge of the Gazette.

Jon said he was “touched and humbled” by the support he received, particularly the #saveourstokoe Twitter campaign which attracted the attention of a number of other senior regional press journalists as well as national media figures such as the BBC’s Jeremy Vine.

“It was amazing really – almost embarrassing at times. I didn’t think for a moment I would get a reaction like that,” he said.

“I am quite modest and I was just trying to do my job, and do it well. But the reaction, especially from the community of Whitby, was fantastic. It was a real boost after hearing that news.

“I will miss everything about it – my colleagues, attending the events I did as editor, and meeting people.”

This poster was circulated on Twitter by supporters who wanted Johnston Press to change its mind

11 Comments

  1. Old hack in me prime

    It really makes me wonder why any of us bother! But best of luck. Somebody out there must want to employ ability..

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  2. North-East journalist

    Sorry for Jon, but sure he will be back in a job somewhere soon. Another own goal by Johnston Press.

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  3. Peter

    Another class decision made by the JP bosses / what they cannot see is they will be making themselves redundant very shortly because there won’t be any regional newspapers left to sack people from :-(

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  4. Dave

    Unlucky pal.

    With your experience you have the world at your feet – you can communicate, you are good with people, you have been in a management role.

    I left papers a few years back and have never looked back – or bought my local paper as it now appears to lack something called stories.

    Wish you well.

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  5. GladImOutOfIt

    First the editor, then the office…soon, the newspaper in its entirety will go, to become a slip edition of the Scarborough. A tragedy for Whitby that won’t benefit JP much either. Idiots.

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  6. Johnners, Shropshire

    Sorry the campaign didn’t achieve it’s aim, Jon. Hope you find a decent employer who recognises and appreciates your talents. All good wishes.

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  7. Bluestringer

    Very sad indeed.

    Strange how newspapers expect others to bend to public pressure generated by a Twitter campaign yet when the role is reversed the management shrugs and chooses to utterly ignore it.

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  8. Welshwolf

    Once again, it seems, the decent, hard-working man on the ground who knows his patch intimately gives way to someone operating in some kind of satellite system. Don’t expect the circulation to rise again.

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  9. Tog

    Incompetent short-sighted bean counters win the day yet again. The problem is that the JP managers – in common with most of the management of the rest of the regional press – aren’t actually very good at their jobs so they blunder through making flawed decisions like this; decisions that are to the detriment of the company both short and long term. I hope Jon finds an appreciative employer soon, or perhaps he could get some backing to compete against the Gazette? Whitby is clearly a place where print has a future and with some effort and a free hand who knows what could be achieved?

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  10. Old hack in me prime

    Our place had a 15-strong managemen tmeeting last week – we’ve got 4 reporters – to debate whether we should make use of Facebook and Twitter!!

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  11. Tired of all this

    Nice way to reward his loyalty after 20-odd years of service.

    JP looks more and more like The Producers every day.

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