A regional daily editor who dramatically quit his job last month has joined forces with another ex-editor in a bid to run a local TV channel.
Rob Lawson, left, resigned from his role as editor of the Sunderland Echo and editorial director of its sister titles last month after 10 years at the helm but has now joined a team bidding to run a new TV channel for Newcastle.
He has joined Channel 8 North East which was set up by a team including former Newcastle Evening Chronicle editor Paul Robertson, who was also editorial director of Trinity Mirror North East before resigning last year.
The company, which will call its channel NEON TV, is up against three other applicants for the licence for Newcastle but is set to find out from Ofcom before Christmas if it has been successful.
Rob said: “Like the rest of the team I believe the existing media in the region is providing a diminishing service to local people and this needs to be redressed.
“Although an important chapter of my career has finished, my commitment to journalism and my desire to serve communities in Sunderland and the North East remains as strong as ever.
“Unfortunately the existing local media, for a number of reasons, is unable to provide the service it once did and that’s why Channel 8 North East’s plans are so exciting.”
He added: “I was stunned by the number of good wishes I received. I have already been involved in a number of interesting projects and view Channel 8 North East as potentially one of the most exciting and important developments in the local media in decades.”
Also on the team are Nick Oldham, the managing director of Gateshead-based production company Media 19, and Andrew Lambert, former editor of BBC Look North.
Nick said: “Unlike the other three applicants we are not bidding for a network of licences. Our production base will be in the North East, we will be managed in the North East and our sole focus will be providing programmes which are relevant for viewers in the North East.
“We are delighted that Rob is joining us. Not only is he a highly able and experienced journalist, he also shares our complete commitment to the region.”
Rob’s departure from the Echo was announced the day after Johnston Press announced the closure of the Sunderland print plant, with the work set to move to Sheffield, but he denied there was a link to this – saying he had confirmed his departure the week before.
When he left, the Bishop of Durham the Rt Revd Justin Welby called him an “exceptional editor” whose departure was “much to be regretted.”
Paul left the Chronicle in July 2011 after nine years at the helm and was later appointed as a director of Newcastle communications agency MDA.
The other applicants for the Newcastle licence are Made in Tyne and Wear, Metro8 Newcastle and YourTV Newcastle.