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Steve Brown exits new job after just three months

Experienced regional newspaper boss Steve Brown has left his new job as chief executive of the Claverley Group, it has been confirmed.

The former Trinity Mirror North-East and Midlands MD joined the Midlands-based publisher at the start of this year after his old job disappeared in a restructure.

It was seen at the time as a major coup for the group, whose titles include the Express and Star, Shropshire Star and the two Channel Islands dailies.

Mr Brown, pictured left, had been so highly-regarded by his former employees at Trinity that his departure provoked a vote of no confidence in the company’s management by union members.

However it was confirmed at lunchtime today that he has now left family-owned Claverley, after just three months.

The company said in statement: “Following a strategic review of the future direction of the Claverley Group, Mr Steve Brown is to leave the business with immediate effect.”

Staff at the Midlands titles were told he had left “by mutual consent” in a briefing this morning.

Mr Brown was the first chief executive to be brought into the position from outside the business by Claverley, who had previously appointed from within the group or its subsidiary, Midland News Association.

Last month, he announced a multi-million refinancing deal through Lloyds TSB, a move which was taken to signal the group’s growing ambitions.

Mr Brown has so far not responded to requests for a comment.


horace telford (25/03/2010 12:55:53)
I don’t think there will be a vote of no confidence at MNA!!

eandsinsider (25/03/2010 13:02:20)
Oh well, at least it’s clear. This company doesn’t do progress, communication with its staff or change. The guy never stood a chance here.

youmustbekidding (25/03/2010 14:03:38)
Unbelievable! Steve Brown was a great catch for MNA, don’t think this bodes well for their future at all -totally incredible. Just as well they are family owned as otherwise I think their share price would have just crashed!!

Fred Dinage (25/03/2010 14:20:39)
Well, he didn’t believe in long-service personnel. No chance of him coming into that bracket now, is there?
Trying to turn the place into the Trinity Express and Star was never going to work. After all, how strong is the Trinity reginal press when compared to the E&S? You’d think we never existed before he came.

youmustbekidding (25/03/2010 15:00:35)
Fred Dinage: will be interesting to see how things are in 2 years from now. E&S needs to make some radical changes and soon, the existing business model is not going to carry on paying your wages for too much longer!

Molly New (25/03/2010 16:21:11)
A victory for common sense. Although on-the-face-of-it not a ‘bad-bloke’, Mr Brown was a very ‘bad-fit’ with the EandS and had staff in endless talking shops rather than letting them get on with producing “Britain’s biggest selling evening newspaper”. @ ‘youmustbekidding’… ironically that’s a phrase we’ve used quite a lot during Mr Brown’s brief tenure…calm down dear! The owners have a history of investment and innovation, the editor is the best in the regional business, print sales are highest in the land, the digital audience is growing faster than most papers can dream about… and Wolves are staying UP :-)
Despite all that, there’s no complacency… just widespread relief that the owners have stepped in before Mr B turned us into the next Birmingham Mail. Underestimate the Grahams at your peril.

Fred Dinage (25/03/2010 17:11:06)
“Youmustbekidding” – The E&S going down the drain? Your having a laugh, mate. The E&S have changed their business model consistently over decades to meet ever changing market forces. This, probably, is why the E&S is the strongest regional newspaper around today – and all without the help of Mr Brown. If you think Mr B is a big miss then you should sample the atmosphere around the place today. People haven’t smiled so much since they heard Avram Grant was going to replace Cindy Crawford as the face for Meaningful Beauty.
“MollyNews” – agree with all you have to say but you forgot to mention we have a highly committed Advertising sales force who consistently outperform the competition week after week, month after month, year after year, regardless of the economic climate.

AcrossTheBorder (25/03/2010 17:53:21)
Hmmm… methinks Molly New and Fred Dinage are thanking their lucky stars somewhat! Luddites free to stop the train of change for a little longer, bless ’em! If their great organisation is so great, how come their powers-that-be went to all those lengths to recruit Steve B in the first place… only to ditch him after three months. Great bit of business there, eh? Visionary, eh?! Sounds like owners worried about staff opposition to much-needed business change to me. Good luck, Express & Star.

philosopher (26/03/2010 08:19:33)
If nothing changes then nothing changes. The Express and Star and other Claverley titles will continue to lose circulation and advertising revenue and one day it will be too late. Sad.

Duckett (26/03/2010 08:39:40)
Fred Dinage and MolllyNew – Your confidence is very reassuring but doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny. You might be the biggest selling paper in the land, but you’re losing sales rapidly. Your web figures are nothing special compared to other regional newspapers, and you don’t seem to know how to many money from those figures either. The Express and Star is testament of how newspapers were done in the old days and while that may be a comfortable thing for us journalists to look at, it isn’t a good sign for the future.

Former E&S reporter (26/03/2010 09:48:07)
I used to be a reporter on the E&S. It was horrendous.
The paper itself looks like something from the 1950s. Stories crammed onto the pages but using the same template for almost every one – eg, always an upright photo, so no room for any creativity.
Stories had to be written to fit the space available, so reporters would be waffling for ten paras just to bulk up a NIB to fit a 12cm space; but then decent stories would be cut to about three paras to be slotted into one of the eight stories on the front page.
Completely disheartening.
The paper wants to be the main source of news for its readers, which is fair enough, but it seems to want to be the Daily Mail.
How many ethnic minorities are there in the West Midlands? Yet how many of them do you see within its pages? Reporters are activitely encouraged not to do stories about these residents. Seriously.
I left four years ago and it still makes me so, so mad.
If it’s culture has changed in the interim period then I stand corrected, but I seriously doubt it.

Former E&S Reporter (26/03/2010 10:09:50)
If the bullying has come to an end, then at least that’s something.
You really did have to sign your life away as a reporter there.
And I can think of one news editor who used to pace back and forth behind the reporters, smacking a ruler into the palm of his hand like some Victorian headmaster….

former hack (26/03/2010 11:34:38)
This story is a few years old but quite funny, in a depressing sort of way…

dontyaluvit (26/03/2010 12:23:47)
Duckett makes a good point about web hits.
Its not the volume. How much MONEY is the website making. About two quid out of every £100 ad income? Four if you are lucky. Papers prop up websites in most regional papers.
How’s that for shock news?
Its the reason many papers are going to…er….papers.

Hengist Pod (26/03/2010 15:14:56)
Some interesting stuff on the bullying culture. I can’t believe that this sort of thing is going on in the modern age really – b
ut clearly it does. I’ve heard reporters there tell me they’re treated like dirt on a daily basis. One person I knew had an interview there, thought it had gone well and was thinking of going there when right at the end the person interviewing them said: “Just one thing – when you come and work for me – I own you!” Needles to say they didn’t take up the job offer

sold down the river (26/03/2010 16:32:35)
Time for a little perspecitve folks: life at the E&S is tough true but, it is not a prison camp or the hell you’re making out either
This is nothing to do with Mr Brown and everything to do with militant, archaic people harping on about how it used to be. If you think any other newspaper is different you’re dreaming! If you’re all that good and the MNA is soo bad stop whinging and go get employed somehwere else…..hmm, didn’t think so!

Another Former MNA Staffer (26/03/2010 17:10:02)
The first comments made by ‘Former E&S reporter’ should resonate completely with any current/former reporter on the Shropshire Star and E&S. They absolutely hit the nail completely on the head and echoed the frustrations of anyone who has ever seen their page leads reduced to an afterthought on page 17 because of the ridiculous page layout structure which the company steadfastly refuses to update. The layout was considered revolutionary when it was first conceived (in the 1960s) but half a century has since elapsed and the SS/E&S machine slowly grinds on. As for Steve Brown………you are better off out of it! Trust me!

Calm&collected (29/03/2010 09:27:45)
The appointment of Steve B was generally welcomed by the editorial floor who saw it as a possible injection of new ideas and a rein on rantings and abuse. The likes of Fred and Molly obviously saw things differently. But for a chief executive to leave so soon after appointment and only days before publication of annual results must be unprecedented.

Peter Piper (29/03/2010 11:53:21)
It was clear that Steve Brown was keen on communicating with staff because as soon as he came along employees started getting newsletters telling them what the company was up to. This had never been done before and was a refreshing change – lets hope it will continue now he has gone. However, no one seems to know the real reasons why he left, rumour has it he had lined up a replacement for Alan Harris behind the backs of the Grahams. But I’m not one to listen to gossip!! Regarding the comments that have been made about the newspaper. I know journalists don’t like the layout but what about the readers? Any reader I have spoken to have said one of the best things about the paper is they feel they are getting value for money because there is more news per page than any other publication. I know its not nice when stories are cut down and shoved into a small box in the middle of the paper, but welcome to the world of journalism – I have worked on six different papers and it is the same wherever you go – just remember there are plenty of stories that don’t even make it into the paper. Also, there are control freaks and bullies wherever you go in the media. You either let yourself be bullied or you don’t and if it gets too much then leave as they never bully the ones they really value – and who wants to stay somewhere when they are not valued?

mnaadman (29/03/2010 12:12:59)
I don’t work in editorial but I agree with Peter Piper’s point.There are many people in the company who saw Steve Brown’s appointment as just what we needed.The company does need to move forward and some good things were starting to happen.It’s not good that we can’t seem to cope with somebody with fresh thinking and different ideas. There are many people here who regret that he’s gone.

Fencehopper (29/03/2010 14:19:48)
The Black Country is a few years behind the times, so it’s no surprise that their newspaper is too. Yes, enjoy ‘the good times’ for now, but if you don’t learn the lessons of those who went before you (particularly re: digital output) you’ll just follow the Birmingham Mail et al into a corner they can’t get out of.
But hey, if you want to enjoy a few years of joshing at how great the archaic model is then do so – just don’t come moaning when old father time catches up with the E&S model. After all, sitting back and thinking they were invincible is what has done for so many newspapers who are now in a terminal decline and clutching at straws to try and escape (Birmingham Post anyone?)

Calm&collected (29/03/2010 15:11:31)
The thought of a chief executive of a holding company being dismissed for lining up a replacement for the managing director of a subsidiary beggars belief. It calls into question the whole reason for his appointment and the owners’ ability to adopt fresh ideas. After all, didn’t they claim to produce Britain’s most progressive paper?

Still there (30/03/2010 10:21:41)
Whilst it is always good to have a healthy debate/rant on how to run/design a newspaper here is the reason why the man was sacked.
He appointed a new head of HR/Personal without consulting Alan Graham.
And anyone who has ever worked there will know that is quite enough

Old regional press hand (30/03/2010 13:30:16)
Interesting stuff from Peter Piper and Still There but one would have thought these kind of issues would have been ironed out at the time of Mr Brown’s original appointment. As Calm&Collected rightly says: “The thought of a chief executive of a holding company being dismissed for lining up a replacement for the managing director of a subsidiary beggars belief.” Likewise a head of HR/personnel. If Steve Brown as chief executive didn’t have the authority to hire/fire such people, the Grahams should have made that clear to him when they head-hunted him for the job. I suspect his reponse would have been to tell them where to stick it.

youmustbekidding (31/03/2010 11:20:32)
Molly New thinks Adrian Faber is the best Editor in the land!!! Are you his P.A??
The Graham’s have made themselves a laughing stock and I just feel sorry for the staff whose future is in their hands. With Steve Brown they had a great opportunity, and it appears bizarre that this has been wasted. It is clear that any replacement will have to be happy being a “family puppet” -not sure that is makes good business sense!

Interested outsider (01/04/2010 11:30:01)
Reading all the comments, this business has all the characteristics associated with burying ones head in the sand. It is obviously a business that needs to change in a sector that is changing rapidly. It brings in a new Chief Executive presumably to get things moving and then gets cold feet three months in. Classic symptons of a business in denial.