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Editor moves on as newsroom blueprint is rolled out across JP

Neil PickfordThe editor of a daily-turned-weekly has left his role amid a newsroom shake-up that is now being rolled out across the whole of Johnston Press.

Neil Pickford, left, who was editor of the Northants Telegraph along with the Harborough Mail, is to become communities content editor for JP’s South Midlands division as part of the company’s “newsroom of the future” initiative.

As previously reported on HTFP, the reorganisation will see JP’s titles in the region split into four geographic divisions, each headed up by an editor reporting to overall group editor in David Summers, who will now edit both the Telegraph and the Northampton Chronicle and Echo.

Two centralised ‘hubs’ are also to be created – one for managing community news and UGC, the other for sport – with Neil now heading up the community news hub.

The move comes as JP confirmed that newsroom of the future – initially piloted in its North Midlands and South Yorkshire centres – is now being rolled out across the whole company.

It is not clear at this stage which other editor roles, if any, will be under threat as a result of the initiative.

A JP spokeswoman said: “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.

“Getting the detail of a substantial project like this correct has, inevitably, taken time and has not been without its challenges but getting the structures right has been paramount so we’re grateful to our teams for their patience throughout the process.

“There are still a few ongoing discussions to be had but we are very close to fully rolling-out this key transformation initiative.”

In the South Midlands, Chris Lillington, editor of four JP titles in Warwickshire including the Rugby Advertiser, Leamington Courier and Kenilworth Weekly News, will now add the Harborough Mail to his portfolio.

JP has not yet revealed what roles, if any, will be given to its four other current editors in the 80-mile long region – Jason Gibbins, of the Banbury Guardian, Roger Hawes, of the Bucks Herald, Bucks Advertiser and Hemel Hempstead Gazette, Lynn Hughes, of the Luton News and Biggleswade Chronicle, and Olga Norford, of the Milton Keynes Citizen and Bedford Times & Citizen.

Neil initially took up the editorship of the Telegraph in 2011 following Jeremy Clifford’s move to Sheffield daily The Star.

He oversaw its transition from a daily to weekly title in 2012, having also taken up the editorship of the Mail that year when Brian Dodds was made redundant.

Neil has yet to respond to HTFP’s request for a comment on the move, but posted on Twitter: “The final page of my final (Telegraph) as editor is with the press team. I’m as proud of this week’s edition as I was my first.

“Thank you to all (the Telegraph) team, past and present. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with you over the past four years and for anyone who wants to know, (the Telegraph) plays a big part in my new role. Looking forward to working with new team.”

17 comments

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  • April 20, 2015 at 8:34 am
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    What is “community news” as opposed to “news”? It’s not lists of WI meetings and village-hall boot fairs, is it? I think we should be told. Anyway, congratulations to Neil on this appointment and his brave words describing it.

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  • April 20, 2015 at 8:35 am
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    Neil is one of the good guys. He will be greatly missed as editor but will no doubt do a marvellous job in his new role. All the best Neil.

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  • April 20, 2015 at 9:04 am
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    We have a UGC hub, but it’s her day off today.

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  • April 20, 2015 at 9:09 am
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    In the past, the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post (and related titles) delivered on quality, both in news content and style and advert design. JP seems to think that this is a new approach that has to be focused on. But readers know now that the content is not that local, fitted into templated page designs, padded out with features designed from afar and ‘vote for …’ awards that are only ever relevant to a small proportion of readers.

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  • April 20, 2015 at 9:36 am
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    When will that day come when JP bring out a ‘one-paper-fits-all’ publication? Called The News Near You, it will cover an area the size of four counties, be produced from a centralised office comprising one editor, several news editors (who dont write content), sports content curators, ents curators, lifestyle curators, social media compilers, a photo editor (doesn’t take pics), an editorial assistant, online media uploaders, oh and two reporters who’s sole simple job is to write the news and give the sorry bunch listed a job to do.

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  • April 20, 2015 at 9:40 am
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    As a Yorkshireman now living in Lancashire, I used to pop into newsagents in Preston, Lancaster, or Blackpool, and they would have some copies of the YP on sale. It was always the East coast edition with stories about Scarborough, but as I enjoy reading about my old county, this was better than nothing.
    Suddenly, all this stopped so that now I cannot buy copies of the paper anywhere local.
    Newsagents inquired on my behalf, and were told by YP circulation that the situation would be rectified, but nothing has happened. I inquired in W.H. Smith where staff didn’t even know that they sold the Yorkshire Post.
    It seems that the bigger the company is, the more it loses contact with its customers and. in the case of the YP, the more bull it feeds its readers.

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  • April 20, 2015 at 9:51 am
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    My local paper has not had an editor for years and it shows. Sloppy grammar, factual errors, missed stories are all part of the weekly routine. Content editors are just not of same quality and are basically production monkeys.
    The Return of the Hubs is a horror story waiting to happen as regards quality and local news gathering but I get the feeling no-one in JP really cares too much about that as long as the wretched rags roll off the press on time.

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  • April 20, 2015 at 9:57 am
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    Does anyone actually apply for jobs at JP any more ? I can’t see how there is any future at all.

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  • April 20, 2015 at 10:59 am
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    localhack: No one in middle to senior management cares a hoot about any of the journalistic elements you mention. These are located in the different country called the past and are out of radio contact now. All that remains is a dwindling profit pile from which returns will be scavenged until they exhausted, and then the process will be terminated. I agree that bad grammar, spelling, missed stories, etc should be at the heart of what we do – but to the suits it’s simply irrelevant. Editorial integrity never mattered much to them but now it’s obsolete it matters nothing.

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  • April 20, 2015 at 11:33 am
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    Same Day – I think expecting a Photo Editor is a bit optimistic.

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  • April 20, 2015 at 12:09 pm
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    Neil’s a good journalist grounded in local newspapers and I’m sure he would bring much more value to his current role and prefer to do that rather than take some woolly ‘community content editor’ post. Still, hey ho we’ve all got bills to pay and if it keeps the bean counters happy…

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  • April 20, 2015 at 1:08 pm
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    New journalism job titles are ace, you could have some great fun making them up.

    Reporter – content curator
    News editor – head content curator
    Editor – content curator who’s been there more than 18 months
    Sub Editor – curator of content

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  • April 20, 2015 at 9:39 pm
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    The decline in professional standards of JP papers, especially weeklies, is one of the saddest aspects of the industry. Hubs are just another nail. The era of the amateur is upon us.

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  • April 22, 2015 at 9:06 am
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    Each year JP invites staff to Have Your Say. I don’t bother any more. Nobody listens. It’s the same on this website. Water off a duck’s back. Don’t think I’ll bother commenting again. The destruction of once great papers will continue.

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  • April 23, 2015 at 5:16 pm
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    Neil, you’re definitely one of the good guys, but I give it a year.
    This is exactly what they did to the subs. They centralise you into regional hubs, then they decide that half the people could do those jobs back out at the patch offices.
    By this time, the remaining people there have moved into the stationery cupboard because there aren’t enough of them left to warrant heating a whole office, but it won’t matter to you, because you’ll only be there to serve your notice and won’t be able to do anything anyway, because they’ll already have sold your computer and chair.
    I hope you get another job and move on, knowing you did as much as you could, for as long as you could, before the papers you care about become full of nothing but lorem ipsum placeholder text.

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