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Daily editor backs elected mayor for county

Jeremy CliffordYorkshire Post editor Jeremy Clifford has backed the idea of an elected mayor covering the whole of Yorkshire as part of the government’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ initiative.

Jeremy was discussing the opportunities for the regional press offered by the government’s devolution plans alongside Manchester Evening News editor Rob Irvine at yesterday’s Society of Editors regional seminar.

Chancellor George Osborne has agreed to devolve major powers to Greater Manchester in return for it moving to an elected mayoral structure similar to London’s.

Now Yorkshire is being offered a similar deal – even though Leeds, Sheffield and Wakefield have all voted against the introduction of an elected mayors by at least 60-40 margins.

Jeremy told the seminar that the plans represented a big opportunity for Yorkshire but admitted that the public was sceptical about elected mayors.

“The challenge we have as a newspaper business is public opinion,” he said.

Jeremy added that he wanted the Post to “help shape the conversation” around devolution, but was wary of dancing to Mr Osborne’s agenda.

He told the seminar: “There’s a danger of appearing as a cheerleader for Project Osborne. I want to be free to support the Northern Powerhouse idea without being obliged to Osborne.”

Later, Santha Rasaiah, legal, political and regulatory affairs director of the News Media Organisation warned that the introduction of elected mayors may affect the rights of journalists to attend council meetings.

“How are you going to get access to meetings if it’s a mayor now making the decisions? That is something we are going to have to be active on now,” she said.

Regional publisher Newsquest has set up a ‘niche products hub’ in Newport which will oversee the production of supplements across the group.

The move was revealed by Southern Daily Echo editor Ian Murray in a speech to yesterday’s seminar.

Ian said some of the best designers in the group would be based at the new hub and that it will produce supplement templates to be used across the publisher’s titles.

The Newport centre is already responsible for production of most of the group’s titles in the Midlands, North West and North East.


The president of the Society of Editors has called for faster progress on content sharing deal between the BBC and local newspapers.

A pilot project in the North of England has seen BBC News sites introduce rolling live blogs linking to local newspaper stories as well as to their own content.

However SoE president Doug Wills told the seminar that collaboration between local press and BBC “should have gone further by now.”

And Yorkshire Post editor Jeremy Clifford called on BBC journalists to stop describing the printed press as “dying.”

The National Council for the Training of Journalists is to review the content of its pre-entry qualification the Diploma in Journalism.

Chief executive Joanne Butcher announced the move at yesterday’s regional seminar during a discussion on the skills journalists will need in the future.

Among the questions that will be considered are whether future entrants should learn IT skills such as coding alongside traditional skills like shorthand.

However Joanne said that the “basic essentials or craft skills of journalism” would remain central.

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  • June 23, 2015 at 10:29 am

    An interesting tweet from The Society of Editors seminar:

    socofeduk: 90% of those that receive the diploma are in employment in 6 months. This is 96% for those that receive the gold standard qualification.

    This was sent during the session on ‘journalism skills in the future’ with NCTJ chief executive Joanne Butcher.

    That is an incredibly positive result, especially in these difficult times.

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