AddThis SmartLayers

Comeback for former JP editor as he lands new role

A veteran editor who recently took redundancy from his role with Johnston Press is returning to the industry as editor of his hometown papers.

John Francis stood down as editor of the Hemel Hempstead Gazette after 33 years with JP, with his duties passing to Bucks Herald editor Roger Hawes in Aylesbury.

Now he is returning to the frontline as editor of Archant’s Comet series of titles in North Herts, which also includes the Royston Crow.

John, left, who has lived in North Herts for more than 30 years, takes over from Darren Isted who left at the end of May to set up his own business.

Said John: “I’m delighted to have been given the chance to edit my local papers and I’m looking forward to joining an award-winning team.

“I can’t wait to get started, and I plan to put all my experience, skills and local knowledge to work to help make a very popular and respected series even more of a ‘must read’ every week.

“My only concern is that I’ll have to smarten up a bit when I go down to the market on a Saturday morning. My wife’s a local teacher and she’s used to being greeted in the street and getting involved in lengthy chats about children or education.

“I look forward to her having to wait around for me for a change, as readers let me know what they think or pass on tips.”

Archant Herts & Cambs publishing director Jonathan Cropley said: “We’re extremely pleased to have attracted someone of John’s undoubted calibre and experience to this important editor role for Archant in Hertfordshire.

“I’m confident he will help us to continue improving our already award-winning print and digital offerings for customers across North Hertfordshire.”

John, 58, began his continuous service with JP as chief reporter of the now defunct North Herts Gazette and Express series back in 1981 – at which time his new paper the Comet was the main competition.

He then became deputy editor on a sister title in Milton Keynes before taking on the editorship of the Luton Citizen in 1988.

The next stop was a 10-year stint in Hemel Hempstead before he returned to Luton as group editor of Bedfordshire Newspapers.

When that company was amalgamated into Milton Keynes-based Premier Newspapers, also taking in the neighbouring Central Counties Newspapers, John became group editor of the enlarged company and was at one time responsible for more than 80 staff.

Shortly before John left Hemel Hempstead he oversaw the closure of the Gazette’s offices in the town after they were put up for sale by JP.

He said advances in technology now meant reporters and other staff no longer needed a physical office and that a “high-tech box of tricks” would enable them to operate from anywhere.

One comment

You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • July 6, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    But will John be working from home or have a real office, like the one we operated from as reporters on the old Folkestone Herald and South Kent Gazette, in the late 70s?

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(1)