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Digital publishing boss bids to forge writing career

A digital publishing boss who oversaw the growth of a group of regional newspaper websites to more than 5m users has decided to seek fresh challenges.

Robert Hardie, head of publishing at Northcliffe Digital, is bidding to forge a new career as a writer of fiction and radio drama.

Since joining Northcliffe in May 1997, Robert has been involved in the company’s digital operation from its earliest days.

Over the course of nearly 14 years with the company, he saw the thisis network grow from 150,000 users to more than 5m across 22 sites.

He told HTFP: “In terms of building an audience, one of the things I am most proud of is the sustained growth we’ve maintained throughout that period.

“I’ve been blessed with a team of talented and committed staff and any success we’ve had is really down to them.

“But timing is everything and the time is right now for me to go.

“I have had some small success in the past as a writer of fiction and radio drama and I now intend to pursue this as a full-time career.”

Robert began his career in journalism in 1988 on the Chipping Sodbury Gazette, then owned by the Bailey Newspaper Group, and worked his way up to become acting editor of the Stroud News and Journal and then managing editor of the group.

He moved to the Northcliffe-owned Derby Telegraph in 1997, initially to work on district editions, but soon became involved in internet projects.

As content manager and later managing editor of the thisis network, he oversaw three platform rebuilds and six redesigns – or “evolutions” as he prefers to call to them

He will be succeeded as head of digital publishing by his deputy Marc Cooper, currently the regional publisher for the thisis sites in the West and Wales region.

  • Robert will be contactable in future at He is also on Twitter at @RobertHardie.