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.
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.”