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Editor fires parting shot after 32 years on paper

An editor who spent over three decades with the same paper has bid a barbed farewell to readers and staff.

The latest edition of the Haverhill Echo is David Hart’s last as editor – but he couldn’t leave without a side-swipe at management at Johnston Press and other newspaper publishers.

David spent 32 years with the Echo as a reporter, deputy editor then editor.

In his final ‘Hartbeat’ column, David accused newspaper managers of losing sight of what he called their “community dimension.”

“I don’t suppose I need to tell you what I think of the decision to send me on my way after 32 years, with barely enough food for a day’s march,” he said.

“Sadly, the scenario of editors being shed by the big newspaper companies is becoming more and more common.

“It is no secret that times are hard in the newspaper business and costs have to be cut.

But somewhere along the line newspaper companies seem to have lost sight of the fact that they didn’t create these businesses.

“These giants are just agglomerates put together by directors who wanted to expand their empires and supposedly also for the benefit of shareholders who wanted bigger and bigger dividends.

“Rather like in the banking business, we now see this was a bit of a bubble which was always going to be pricked one day.”

David is one of five staff to leave Anglia Newspapers after a round of redundancies.

Also departing are two artists and an advertising representative along with a member of production staff due to leave later this month.

Bury Free Press editor Barry Peters has now taken over the Haverhill Echo as well.

David added: “Although a newspaper is a business, it has a community dimension and responsibility which makes it very different.

“Inconveniently for company managers, news is annoyingly resource-heavy, as it doesn’t directly bring in any money and is difficult to staff because it has an awkward habit of happening unpredictably.

“I guess the world has moved on and now it can be managed, like CCTV monitoring, at a distance – probably Bangalore, eventually.”

  • To read David’s full final Hartbeat column, visit the Haverhill Echo website.
  • Comments

    F. Johnston (20/10/2008 08:13:53)
    Commiserations David. I completely agree. I’m increasingly convinced that the likes of Johnston Press have become too big, too slow to respond to changing circumstances and too remote from their customers and will die out like the dinosaurs they have become.
    They are also getting increasingly desperate . . .

    Sam (20/10/2008 10:11:33)
    As an ex-JP editor you have my heartfelt sympathy. The ‘life is local’ philosophy is in tatters thanks greed. I pity those new to the industry who will ultimately suffer the same fate.

    D. Lewendon (20/10/2008 10:35:10)
    Mr, Hart has my sympathy and the decision to dispose of his services has probably been made my someone who has no idea where Haverhill is or what its about. The move back to Community newspapers where local
    staff wrote the local news has been happening, albeit very slowly for some years. Why not go back to the beginning and start your own “Community” paper. We used to before these greedy corporations came along.

    Mr_Osato (20/10/2008 11:33:43)
    Well said David – interestingly Johnston Press hasn’t enabled comments on the story. What a pity…

    Karl C (20/10/2008 13:19:14)
    Good for you David — you’ll be better off out of it. I recently left my local paper, having worked the patch for ten years, having started straight from school. The tide has turned during the past decade since I started, all the community side of everything has been stripped away. I’m in PR now, it’s not as good, and it doesn’t quench the thirst in the same way, but it does pay the bills.

    richard m (20/10/2008 13:44:55)
    A sad day David – but go with your head held high. The pity is, you are obviously one of the kind of editors we need – able to stand up for the role of journalists as information gatherers for the public, exposers of injustice and a voice for the unheard. It is such an integral and vital element of our democratic community. Come to think of it – much moreso than banks. Perhaps Mr Brown would think of bailing-out reporters’ pay packets. Now there’s a thought!

    Robert Evans (20/10/2008 22:05:00)
    I agree entirely with what you say David and with good reason – I was also made redundant by JP in September after 35 years with the company, the last 30 as an editor. Shareholders rule OK

    archie fleming (21/10/2008 09:56:59)
    I too was a JP editor until earlier this year leaving under a 2 jobs into 1 exercise at Motherwell. David makes many good points. I would just say to him that there is life after JP and he may be surprised at how good it can be. I too doubt that having shareholders is the right formula for local papers. There is much more upheaval to come in the industry but the demand for news will continue and there will be roles for people like David who want to be the messengers.

    observer (12/08/2009 17:39:24)
    well said… you hit the nail on the head.