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New editors for Echo, Gazette as Journal loses top two

Pastures new: Mark Dickinson (left) and Paul Robertson.

Three big regional newspapers are set for new editors as Thomas’s Newcastle Journal prepares to lose its top two – both to Trinity Mirror titles

Editor Mark Dickinson has been named editor of the Liverpool Echo. His deputy, Paul Robertson, will take the helm at the Evening Gazette, Middlesbrough.

“It’s a tremendous tribute to the work that’s been going on at The Journal,” Mr Dickinson told HoldTheFrontPage.

He will be reunited at Liverpool with Stephen Parker, former managing director of The Journal, while Mr Robertson will team up again with Neil Benson, who was new business development director at Newcastle.

Mr Dickinson (49) succeeds John Griffith, who left Liverpool last year to become managing director of the Huddersfield Daily Examiner Group. Tony Storey has been acting editor of the Echo since then.

Mr Dickinson said: “I am extremely happy to be asked to take on one of the great regional newspapers in one of the greatest cities in Britain.

“My father’s and my wife’s families are both Liverpool-born-and-bred, so there is a real sense of getting back to my roots.

“The Echo is a flagship title and I feel very privileged and grateful to be trusted with its care and development.”

Mr Parker, managing director of the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo, said: “I am delighted to renew the very strong partnership we forged in Newcastle.

“Mark took a newspaper which had begun to lose its way following a relaunch early in the ’90s and has successfully established it as one of the top regional morning newspapers in the country.

“Although team-work has played a major part in this, much of its success is due to his leadership and vision, which, I am sure, are qualities he can successfully apply in Liverpool.”

Mr Dickinson began his journalistic career with Macmillan Journals and then spent spent 10 years as a sub-editor with the Daily Telegraph. He edited Manchester Review magazine and worked briefly for the Wrexham Leader before becoming chief sub-editor of Tonight, Chester. He was chief sub of the Aberdeen Evening Express and assistant editor of The Journal before being appointed deputy editor-in-chief of Chronicle Newspapers, Chester.

He returned to Newcastle as editor of The Journal in 1996. The paper is currently BT Regional Newspaper of the Year.

“I’m going to be very sad to leave. It’s been very exciting here,” he said.

“We’ve put a great team together and had a lot of success.

“I think that the paper is stronger, fitter and meaner than when I arrived. I think we’ve defined the paper’s position in terms of speaking up on behalf of the North East.

“A lot of the economic agenda now, in terms of interest rates affecting regions in different ways, has come from the work that’s been going on at The Journal.

“The Case for The North campaign, which has made us rather unpopular in some Government quarters, has been something we have been proud to build.”

He moves from a morning paper which ended last year with an average daily sale of 51,458 to an evening title with a circulation 155,920 – the third-highest sale of any UK regional daily.

He said: “The Echo is a much-loved, very stable, popular newspapers and the big thrill for me is going to be in working with a new team and with new readers to try to enhance the newspaper and create something new and excting that brings readers in.

“I’m going in there very open-minded, with no pre-set plan.”

Mr Dickinson, who has described his hobby as “harpooning subs”, will take up his appointment in June.

He is married to Pauline and they have four children.

Paul Robertson (33) will take over at the 62,810-circulation Evening Gazette in April, teaming up with deputy editor and fellow Newcastle United fan Alan Sims (acting editor since Ranald Allan’s departure in December), although he stressed: “I very much have my eye on Middlesbrough as well.”

Mr Robertson began his career with the weekly Morpeth Herald after attending Darlington College.

He joined the Journal in 1989 as a senior reporter and became a district reporter, chief reporter, head of content, sports editor and associate editor before moving to the sister Evening Chronicle as assistant editor. He returned to the Journal as deputy in January, 1998.

Mr Robertson is married to Susan, a teacher.

“I am delighted to be taking the helm of a newspaper that has played such an important part in the community for the past 130 years,” he said.

“We have exciting new plans for the newspaper and the business as a whole.”

He added: “I’m very much a newspaper person and I think that even in this age of modern technology and the Internet, newspapers have a very important role to play in the community and I am looking forward to the challenge.”

Neil Benson, managing director of Gazette Media Company, said: “Paul is looking to build on the tremendous strengths of the Gazette.

“He is very keen to bring the Gazette even closer to its readers and to concentrate on local news, features and sport, which we cover better than anyone.”

The editor’s job at The Journal is being advertised nationally.

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