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Review of 2012: Exodus continues as ten daily editors move on

The exodus of regional daily editors that characterised 2011 continued apace with ten more leaving the industry over the past 12 months.

The year saw some of the biggest names in regional journalism departing the stage, as no fewer than 20 regional daily editorships changed hands.

If the career trajectory of a single individual personified the ever-changing nature of the business over the past year, it was probably that of Gillian Gray, pictured left.

Appointed editor of Blackpool daily the Gazette in February after 15 years in charge of the Wigan Evening Post, she was on the move again within seven weeks to take over the top job at the Lancashire Evening Post in Preston.

Gillian’s second job move in as many months came about as a result of a wide-ranging editorial shake-up within parent company Johnston Press that saw two high-profile editors leave the industry.

First, LEP boss Simon Reynolds was shown the door after 11 years in the job, before Scotsman editor-in-chief John McLellan also saw his role disappear.

In one of the more interesting post-journalism job moves, John later reasurfaced as PR boss for the Scottish Conservatives, rugby-tackling an intruder who tried to disrupt a visit by Prime Minister David Cameron.

His old job as Scotsman editor eventually went to Ian Stewart, while Frank O’Donnell had earlier been named editor of the Edinburgh Evening News in place of Tom Little, who left at the end of 2011.

Another JP shake-up almost saw Yorkshire Post editor Peter Charlton and the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Paul Napier go head to head for a single editor-in-chief role in Leeds.

But Paul eventually secured a group-wide role as editorial development director and Peter, one of the industry’s great survivors, lived to fight another day.

One of the most dramatic resignations was that of Rob Lawson as editor of the Sunderland Echo after ten years.

The move was announced to staff on the same day it emerged that the print plant at Sunderland was to close with the loss of 81 jobs, although Rob insisted the two were unlinked.

Away from JP, the most movement came within Northcliffe Media which saw five daily editorships change hands.

Among those bowing out were Malcolm Pheby, succeeded at the Nottingham Post by Mel Cook, and South Wales Evening Post boss Spencer Feeney, whose permanent successor is yet to be announced.

Alan Qualtrough stood down from the Western Morning News, with his role going to The Herald’s Bill Martin and former MEN deputy editor Ian Wood moving to Plymouth in Bill’s place.

There was also a new role for the Derby Telegraph’s Steve Hall, who stepped up to MD shortly after being named editor of the year at the Regional Press Awards. His job went to long-time deputy Neil White.

There were big changes at Trinity Mirror’s North Wales and North West titles with Manchester Evening News editor Maria McGeoghan leaving her job in a shake-up that saw the appointment of four regional editors-in-chief across the company.

The MEN job went to North Wales Daily Post news chief Rob Irvine, with Wales on Sunday’s Alison Gow succeeding Rob in Llandudno.

Meanwhile Archant’s four East Anglian dailies slimmed down from four editors to two, with Eastern Daily Press editor Pete Waters the main casualty of the restructure.

Nigel Pickover became editor of both the EDP and stablemate the Norwich Evening News, while Terry Hunt took charge of the Ipswich Star in addition to the East Anglian Daily Times.

Another dramatic departure was that of Coventry Telegraph boss Darren Parkin, who was suspended after staff raised concerns about his use of Twitter.

He eventually left the paper, to be succeeded by Alun Thorne, but quickly re-emerged as editor of a glossy magazine based in the Canary Islands.

The year’s departures also included that of the hitherto longest-serving daily editor in the industry, Gerry Keighley of the South Wales Argus, who made way for one of his former deputies, Kevin Ward.

With the annual turnover of editors increasing and only a handful first appointed in the 1990s now remaining, Gerry may well be among the last of a dying breed.


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  • January 2, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Bad for Simon but it’s easy to see why the bean counters did it this way.

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  • January 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Just to be clear in the case of Darren Parkin:
    His unfortunate and unwelcome departure from our newsroom came about as the result of a vendetta by a single member of staff, and it’s about time one of us spoke out.

    He may not have been the most orthodox of editors and, perhaps undone by his relative youth when sat with his peers, but many of my colleagues and I had enough faith in Darren to believe he could steer the Coventry Evening Telegraph through our most difficult period in history.


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  • January 4, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    That JP strategy in full: get rid of experienced editors and parachute in jumped-up news eds who are willing to do the same work and more for, in most cases, half the money.

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