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Weeklies chief to oversee 90-mile patch after second editor takes early retirement

John KenealyA regional publisher has carried out a restructure of its weekly operations in Yorkshire after a second editor opted to take early retirement.

HTFP reported on Friday that Ed Asquith was stepping down as editor of the Scarborough News after 15 years in charge and 30 years with the company.

Now publisher Johnston Press has confirmed that John Kenealy, pictured, has also taken early retirement after six years in the chair at the Halifax Courier.

Both Ed and John’s former portfolios will now be overseen by Jean MacQuarrie, group weeklies editor for Johnston Press Yorkshire, meaning she will be responsible for titles as far afield as Halifax and Whitby, a distance of 92 miles.

James Mitchinson, editorial director for Johnston Press in Yorkshire, said on Friday: “We regret to announce that John Kenealy is to take early retirement.

“Previously editor of the Halifax Courier, the Wakefield Express, the Dewsbury Reporter Series, the Pontefract and Castleford Express and other weekly titles in West Yorkshire, John is a newspaper man through and through, and has led the digital transformation of the West Yorkshire weeklies news teams to great effect.

“He leaves with our grateful thanks and very best wishes for the future. Jean MacQuarrie, group weeklies editor for Johnston Press Yorkshire will assume responsibility for the titles previously edited by John with effect from today.”

A similar announcement had been issued in relation to Ed the previous day.

When asked by HTFP whether Ed and John’s departures were part of a co-ordinated restructure, a JP spokesman responded: “With both John and Ed electing to take early retirement, the time was right to consolidate these roles and adapt our business to reflect modern working best practices.”

John spent most of his career at the Courier, but had previously worked for the Wakefield Express and the Derby Telegraph.

In Halifax, he held a series of roles including sports editor, news editor and deputy editor before taking up the editorship.

15 comments

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  • June 25, 2018 at 8:44 am
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    “Modern working best practices”, eh?
    Would someone please define the meaning of “editor” in this brave new world of so-called “consolidation” & “restructuring”.
    Editing titles from as far afield as Whitby and Halifax cannot possibly be the work of one person.
    The men in suits will soon be deciding that a single reporter – marriage would be out of the question! – can cover the whole of the county.
    Just think of the extra profits to be made…

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  • June 25, 2018 at 8:47 am
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    They were both probably desperate retire and get their pension pots out of the Johnston Press scheme.

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  • June 25, 2018 at 9:14 am
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    As someone who has lived in North Yorkshire for nearly 20 years and retired from JP 10 years ago I can tell you that there it would be easier to be editor of the paper in Dover and then Calais. There is a world of difference between Whitby and Halifax – almost two different planets.

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  • June 25, 2018 at 9:16 am
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    It will show. It is a job impossible to do thoroughly. My local JP rag led on the front page with a non news pic story of what amounted to a fete. That’s remote editing in chief for you.

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  • June 25, 2018 at 9:20 am
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    Hey, look at HTFP’s front page – a recumbency (geddit?) of early retirements. Still, at least in John and Ed’s case JP “regrets” their freely made, if somewhat intriguing, decisions. I don’t know much about “up North” (I’ve heard it’s grim) but it looks like Jean has an “exciting” challenge ahead of her, weaving synergies and all that marvellous stuff. Now, let’s hear a few words from John and Ed.

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  • June 25, 2018 at 11:14 am
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    Why did two long-serving editors elect to go at this time? Maybe the next round of savings is to move to web only titles as the company adapts to “modern working best practices.” With many weeklies selling two or three thousand copies the only real option for cost savings after numerous rounds of cuts is to save on print and associated staff costs. No one will buy these papers as the have lost too much ground in their communities, any incoming investor would save on the purchase price and start from scratch.

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  • June 25, 2018 at 12:22 pm
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    Reporters pretend to report, editors pretend to edit, managers pretend to manage, everyone pretends there’s a future. The only cog in the wheel that actually turns is the shareholder earning a nice little slice.

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  • June 25, 2018 at 12:40 pm
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    It’s likely both were offered enhanced packages to take early retirement along with a gagging clause in order for the bigger picture to be rolled out.
    Costs saved, experienced real editors removed and the easier to manage alternative taken.
    The ongoing cull of experienced editors continues apace giving a true picture of the worth of an editor these days and where managing decline and quantity over quality are their main priorities.

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  • June 25, 2018 at 3:00 pm
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    John has been thinking about retiring for some time. He has family in Australia and it had to happen eventually.

    He has been a journalist for around 40 years and decided it was time to hang up his pen.

    He told me: “And though I’ve loved it, it’s what I really want.”

    The end of an era. He is a great guy with a very dry sense of humour and is a brilliant, old school journalist who successfully managed the transition to the digital era and who will be remembered for a very long time.

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  • June 25, 2018 at 6:07 pm
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    I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that JP have wreaked commercial havoc in West Yorkshire. A decade ago the Courier was an evening title, surrounded by weeklies with offices in nearby towns such as Hebden Bridge. The operation isn’t even a shadow of its former self now, and with relatives in HB my first port of call is always the excellent HebWeb site.

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  • June 26, 2018 at 11:48 am
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    Jeff Jones misses by a mile when he says “The only cog in the wheel that actually turns is the shareholder earning a nice little slice”. Look at what has happened to the share price: February 2014 shares traded at £4.00, now at 5p: a loss of 98%.
    http://www.hl.co.uk/shares/shares-search-results/j/johnston-press-plc-ordinary-1p/share-charts

    If you want to see who in Johnston Press has really had “a nice little slice” in that time, take a look at the accounts and find the bit dealing with directors’ pay and benefits.

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  • June 27, 2018 at 9:04 am
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    I think you are all missing the point. JP has turned its weeklies into freesheets with a price tag – just something to wrap around the ads. The content is so anodyne, it doesn’t need a legal eye over it. There is no court or inquest cover and councils, which are under enormous pressure from an uncaring and ruthless government, go unchecked.
    The titular editor will never see the papers she oversees; in a sense, she doesn’t need to. Design can be tackled with a template.
    Aye, they will come a legal cropper at some point but, along the way, will have saved more than enough to cover it.
    With its weekly portfolio, JP bought a goose which was laying golden eggs and killed it; asset stripping it along the way. It is laden with debt to avoid paying tax. It’s the way of the world: who would bother to make a decent, honest living these days? Too much like hard work.
    Mostly, the thirst for local news is now being filled by dispiriting Facebook pages filled with wildly inaccurate rumour and conjecture.
    It’s all very depressing.

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  • June 27, 2018 at 10:37 am
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    JP has assett stripped the industry and the once profit making print centers. Ashley ipad led readers away from newsprint to the digital format, we all now know how good that was with share price now at around 3p.
    An absolute disgrace.

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  • June 27, 2018 at 11:14 am
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    No dividend paid on ordinary shares since 2007 ( http://www.johnstonpress.co.uk/investors/shareholder-services/dividends ), and value of shares virtually wiped out since then.

    In 2017, three of the directors picked up a “basic” salary totalling about £800,000 between them; then there’s the “bonuses”. All the gory detail from about P53 here http://www.johnstonpress.co.uk/sites/default/files/annual-report-2017.pdf

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  • July 6, 2018 at 3:28 pm
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    Let’s never forget! Local newspapers cannot survive without advertising and the basic problem with JP is that they have tried to survive without the sales people to sell the advertising. Further, they didn’t realise that by persuading their readers to go on line, those readers would stop buying the paper. It really is that simple. Oh, and by the way, if local advertisers bought from call centres it would have been done 35 years ago

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