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Union hits out at regional publisher over editor’s departure

mike-gilson-1Regional publisher Newsquest has come under fire from the National Union of Journalists over the departure of a senior regional daily editor last week.

Newsquest announced on Thursday that Mike Gilson’s tenure as editor of Brighton daily The Argus had come to an end after two years in charge.

However, the National Union of Journalists has hit out at what it describes as the company’s decision to “terminate” Mike’s position.

It has hailed the decision as proof that Newsquest sees “no value in funding quality journalism” and claimed the company had shown no interest in Mike’s efforts to focus on public interest journalism.

A statement reads: “When Mike Gilson was hired as editor for The Argus two years ago staff were told this was a coup for the company which demonstrated a significant investment in the newspaper’s editorial team.

“The company’s decision to terminate his position, therefore, can only be interpreted by our members as a clear message, and sadly further proof, that Newsquest sees no value in funding quality journalism or has any interest in securing the future of our publication.

“The decision suggests the company has either failed to notice, or has no interest, in the efforts made by staff since Mike joined to give The Argus a new lease of life with a strong focus on public interest journalism.

“NUJ members are perturbed that no announcement on the editor’s absence was made for almost two weeks, in which time the team had moved offices to start an apparently exciting new chapter in the newspaper’s history. Still no reason for the decision has been given. We will try to continue as best we can after this devastating blow but we have less confidence in Newsquest’s commitment to the industry than ever before.”

Tony Portelli, managing director Newsquest South London and Sussex, told staff last week that Argus head of content Lucy Pearce was stepping up to take Mike’s place and London group editor Andy Parkes was taking on a wider regional role.

Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, added: “Newsquest appears to know nothing of, or indeed care for, the boost to morale brought by the former editor’s investment in the titles, nor how morale has been dented since his departure. The decision is short-sighted and disrespectful to those who care about the profession.

“Given the cuts inflicted by the incoming group editor Andy Parkes and the managing director Tony Portelli at their base in south London, NUJ members are deeply worried about what the future will hold.

“We are hopeful their first move to reassure staff will be to urgently advertise a position to replace another outgoing member of staff who leaves next week.”

HTFP has asked Newsquest for a comment.

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