A weekly newspaper editor has become the latest to leave Johnston Press as the publisher’s newsroom shake-up continues.
Roger Hawes, left, leaves his role at the helm of the Bucks Herald, Bucks Advertiser, Hemel Hempstead Gazette and the Buckingham and Winslow Advertiser “with a heavy heart” after 25 years as an editor.
His departure is the latest of a series of changes in the company’s South Midlands division, under the “newsroom of the future” initiative which is being rolled out across JP.
The reorganisation has seen JP’s South Midlands titles split into four geographic divisions, each headed up by an editor reporting to group editor David Summers, who also edits the Northampton Chronicle and Echo.
The changes have also seen two centralised hubs created, one for managing community news and the other for sport.
In it, he revealed that Jason Gibbins would now take the helm at the four Bucks and Herts titles, in addition to his existing role as editor of the Banbury Guardian, supported by deputy editors Adam King and Ben Raza.
Said Roger: “After three-and-a-half years at the helm, this will be my final editorial comment as editor of your newspaper.
“It is with a heavy heart that I leave. It has been a privilege to lead the team here, but I have decided it is time to call it a day.
“My departure comes at a time of change within the editorial teams in this area. What will that change mean for regular readers and local organisations that deal with the papers on a day-to-day basis?
“Well, very little in real terms as everyone will still be able to share local stories with their favourite local paper both in print and online.”
Roger said the communities content will be co-ordinated by Neil with a new team of community reporters, while Damien Lucas would take responsibility for growing the audiences of newspaper websites in the area.
He added: “I hope during my tenure you have appreciated the hard work at transforming all the papers into the modern interesting compact products you read today.
“Times are changing in this industry and our titles have established excellent digital audiences. The challenge for the new team will be to continue this growth and expand our audiences even further.
“From my first job in Hemel Hempstead as a sales clerk to a junior reporter on the Dunstable Gazette through to more than 25 years as a local paper editor – it has been a privilege to serve a large number of communities, fulfilling my strongly held belief that whatever opportunities the new technology and new media throws our way ‘life still remains truly local’. Thank you all.”
Roger oversaw the Bucks Herald’s move from broadsheet to compact in May 2012.
His departure comes shortly after he penned a column in which he raised concerns about the use of anonymous comments by newspapers and their websites which has since spawned a lively debate on HTFP.
A spokeswoman for Johnston Press told HTFP earlier this week: “Over the coming days, weeks and months our news teams will start to work in different ways – many roles will change as our business continues to adapt to the changing environment.
“Our new approach will help to enable teams across the business deliver what our readers and advertisers want and our focus will be on ensuring we’re delivering quality products – both online and in print.”