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Publisher set to axe daily and weeklies editorial chief

Andy ParkesAn editorial chief responsible for overseeing a regional daily and a series of sister weeklies – as well as writing a controversial pub column – has been put at risk of redundancy.

Andy Parkes, left, group managing editor of Newsquest South London and Sussex, was placed on gardening leave on Thursday amid an ongoing review of his role.

In his role, Andy had been responsible for overseeing Brighton daily The Argus, along with Newsquest’s weekly titles in South London.

He was also responsible for the PubSpy column run by The Argus, which topped Newsquest’s online charts in January after a piece reporting how the then-anonymous reviewer had been offered a “w*nk” by a patron in a Brighton pub.

Andy’s departure comes days after The Argus posted relatively good circulation figures for the second half of 2018, with its year-of-year sales decline of 6pc representing the second best performance of any UK regional and the best in mainland Britain.

On the day the figures were published, Andy posted a congratulatory tweet saying “Excellent result, well done everyone.”

Andy had been in the post since 2016 following the departure of previous Argus editor, and Newsquest Sussex group editor, Mike Gilson.

Lucy Pearce briefly took on the role of editor/head of content at The Argus at the same time, but she was replaced by Arron Hendy early in 2017.

The review into Andy’s role comes after Newsquest South London and Sussex managing director Tony Portelli left the business following a shake-up at Christmas.

Tony has since been replaced as the regional MD by Mike Harper, managing director of Newsquest Essex and North London.

Andy began his career as a reporter on his local newspaper the Redditch Advertiser, later moving to work for the Daily Record in Glasgow.

He subsequently returned to England, working for a variety of different newspaper companies including Northcliffe and Trinity Mirror, both now part of Reach plc.

In 1998, Andy became editor at the News Shopper, in South-East London, and was promoted to Newsquest South London group editor eight years later.

Newsquest declined to comment when approached by HTFP.

15 comments

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  • March 11, 2019 at 2:01 pm
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    Going by the sales figures of the Argus, they need some new talent, hopefully whoever takes over knows what they are doing.

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  • March 11, 2019 at 2:02 pm
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    Ridiculous decision, probably to save dollar. Pub Spy was widely read and well regarded with Parkes himself well liked. Bean counters once again ruining regional press.

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  • March 11, 2019 at 4:07 pm
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    a decline of 6 per cent in sales doesn’t sound great, but Parkes and the crew at Brighton have done well to keep the ship afloat with the limited staff available. Is this the reward?

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  • March 11, 2019 at 4:52 pm
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    Sorry but you don’t post “Excellent result, well done everyone.” for a failure, albeit less of a failure than most but an under performance none the less, and it’s cettsibly not an ‘excellent ‘ result.
    There’ll no doubt be other reasons for his departure but accepting another y/y shortfall against set targets and performance requirements won’t have helped

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  • March 11, 2019 at 8:56 pm
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    Phillip. while I can’t argue with the figures we have to remember that all regional and weekly newspapers, not just the Brighton Argus, are still killing their circulation by putting their best stories free on their websites. Set against that suicidal policy (as regards newspaper sales) a decline of 6 per cent is almost a reason to throw a party! At least it postpones the inevitable. Anyone who recalls staffing levels at regionals even a decade ago must marvel at the way they get the papers out now with such pared-down staffing. Maybe that is what Parkes meant?

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  • March 12, 2019 at 6:37 am
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    I am in agreement with you Paperboy particularly with regards to staffing, content and the ever falling copy sales numbers but to describe any loss of sale which will equate to a sizeable revenue loss as ‘excellent’ shows naivety,far better to highlight the performance or the effort under trying conditions. Boards will be highly sensitive to the ongoing decline of their core products and finances ss will the ever watchful and concerned shareholders ,so to be seen to be celebrating failure , irrespective of the bigger losses by or hers around you,was ill considered.

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  • March 12, 2019 at 11:26 am
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    Please get the Brighton Argus sales in perspective. Here’s the truth, the facts: the paper suffered a double decline, in print and online. The headline sale of 10,003 newsprint copies (during six months up to December 2018) was 6% fewer year-on-year. Good? Not really, because that total included 1,239 freebies and 93 bulks. So the real total sale was 8,671. As for the website, it attracted 56,256 daily browsers, which was 2% fewer than during the same period the year before. What was there to celebrate?

    None of that, however, necessarly justifies Newsqest’s jettisoning of Mr Parkes.

    Incidentally, I live around the corner from the pub where he was offered a sexual favour. And I’m pleased to say I haven’t had the pleasure…

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  • March 12, 2019 at 1:38 pm
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    Roy Greenslade. That’s a shock . “real” sales of under 9,000 in Sussex population (east and West) of about 1.5 million people despite efforts of staff is sadly more like weekly paper level. I wonder how sacking Parkes helps address this ?

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  • March 12, 2019 at 1:40 pm
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    They will probably replace him with someone who is cheaper and who will edit the paper from miles away

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  • March 13, 2019 at 8:25 am
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    Paperboy refers to the population of East and West Sussex when judging the circulation of the Argus. The days when the Argus covered the whole geographic county of Sussex have long gone- doubt they get over the A27 these days.

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  • March 13, 2019 at 9:19 am
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    Richard Weston. As far as I know the Argus still carries a sprinkle of stories from across Sussex, but it is fair to say it has circled the wagons around Brighton for the core of its news (that’s an area of more than 300,000 I’d estimate). NQ long ago closed its many district offices, once served by some superb reporters, and it is written from one office in Brighton.

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  • March 14, 2019 at 3:47 pm
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    A great Editor and a thoroughly likeable chap. He will be a loss to The Argus.

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