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Weekly editor bows out after 19 years at helm

A campaigning weekly editor has parted company with regional publisher Newsquest after 18 years in charge of two local titles.

Steve Cohen, left, joined the Bucks Free Press 24 years ago and has edited the paper since 1994 and its sister title the South Bucks Star since 1995.

He left Newsquest on Friday in the week that the paper’s cover price was increased from 60p to 90p following a redesign, and now plans to  return to his freelance career.

It is not clear whether there are any plans to replace Steve, who first joined the BFP as news editor in 1989 before being promoted to editor five years later.

Steve’s successful campaigns included the long-running Hands Off Our Hospital fight to save NHS services in High Wycombe, launched in 2004.

It was backed by thousands of readers who were alarmed to see sections of their hospital being relocated to Stoke Mandeville in Aylesbury.

Last year, he won a notable victory when he secured 24-7 minor injury care at Wycombe Hospital – overturning plans to close the unit at night following the transfer of A&E to Aylesbury.

He also oversaw the BFP’s transformation from broadsheet to compact, as well as the implementation of two full-page make-up systems.

Said Steve: “I shall miss the BFP and Star’s fantastic readers and staff, but I’m 50 next month and am relishing the chance of some new challenges.

“I have no regrets and I had plenty of opportunity over the years to enjoy the wonderful privilege of being a local newspaper editor.

“When I joined as news editor in 1989, I actually didn’t like it at first but persuaded myself to stick it out for a year. So it’s fair to say I exceeded my own expectations after hanging on for almost a quarter of a century.

“I leave behind a fantastic staff and set of newspapers and wish them well for the future. I thank Newsquest for its support over many years and wish all the company’s papers the very best success. I now very much look forward to what happens next in my career.”

5 comments

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  • March 25, 2013 at 8:37 am
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    I worked at the BFP for almost a year in the late 90s after being made redundant from a job near my home. When Steve took me on he readily accepted a warning that, with a 100-mile-a-day round trip, I was unlikely to be a long-term employee. However, I was given the same respect as the rest of the staff. It was a first-class local paper and Steve was a most conscientious and hard-working editor as well as a good boss.

    I thank him again for boosting my morale when a boost was much needed, and wish him all the very best in his new venture(s). He deserves to prosper.

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  • March 25, 2013 at 12:26 pm
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    I loved my brief time at the BFP in the 1990s too. Steve was a fantastic editor and the BFP was the beating heart of its community. I remember the support we got when we staged a bone marrow donor session at the newspaper and the way local people turned to us when a popular local head teacher died suddenly. The BFP was the place where everyone came to celebrate, commiserate and debate the issues of the day.
    Steve definitely has the specialist knowledge, the contacts and the passion to make a great success of his new career. Good luck Steve.

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  • March 25, 2013 at 12:34 pm
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    Yes, he put in huge effort but is another Newsquest victim.Sales were diving and ads shrivelling. Big increase in people reading his paper online. Circulation was about 17,000 but once was over 30,000. Sad Steve left without saying goodbye to staff. Feeling hurt inside for sure. The paper and town were very precious to him.
    Many of other staff in High Wycombe have been drafted to Watford office and it will be remotely staffed from there with, for the moment, a few staff left in Wycombe. Rumour that nearly new Wycombe office building will be sold or leased now.

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  • March 25, 2013 at 2:06 pm
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    Having started out on the BFP and then worked elsewhere with Steve, I knew the paper was in very good hands when he became editor.
    He cares deeply about newspapers championing the concerns of the local community – the campaigns connected to services at Wycombe Gen Hospital bear testament to that.
    Congratulations to Steve in being determined to take a positive approach to a new career – there really is a world beyond this mayhem, as many of us can testify.
    Commiserations to Newsquest for getting it so wrong yet again. I suppose it’s one form of consistency.

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  • March 26, 2013 at 12:50 pm
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    Steve Cohen is among the last of the ‘proper’ local newspaper editors. I remember walking through High Wycombe with him and being astonished at how many people stopped to speak to him, or at least wave or call out. He ran the Bucks Free Press with flair and a degree of eccentricity that endeared him to readers and staff (it occasionally infuriated them, too, as he would be the first to admit). It is sad that people of this experience are no longer being retained in local newspapers, but the good news for Steve is that his range of skills and knowledge will be snapped up by others who genuinely appreciate, appropriately value and reward them. Good luck for the future, Steve.

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