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Editorial chief poached by rival daily as publisher unveils restructure

Frank OAn editorial chief is leaving two sister dailies after almost 20 years to take charge at a daily newspaper run by a rival publisher.

Frank O’Donnell, JPIMedia’s editorial director for Scotland, will leave the company in May to become editor-in-chief at Aberdeen daily the Press & Journal.

JPIMedia has announced Frank’s departure along with a restructure of its titles in Scotland, which will become the latest of the company’s publishing units to implement its ‘Digital Acceleration’ programme.

Frank’s departure is not linked to the restructure, and HTFP understands there will be no direct jobs losses as a result of the move.

A new all-Scotland structure will be created incorporating The Scotsman, Edinburgh Evening News, Scotland on Sunday, Falkirk Herald, Fife Free Press and Southern Reporter into the model, which sees journalists focus on producing digital content and has already been implemented by JPIMedia in the North-East of England and the North Midlands and South Yorkshire

All other Scottish weekly print titles will form part of the small titles unit, which will sit alongside the digital acceleration structure.

It is understood there are no plans to relocate any journalists in Scotland, and Frank will be charged with implementing the new model before leaving for the Press & Journal.

Frank, pictured, has spent 19 years with the Edinburgh Evening News and The Scotsman, having edited both titles, as well as Scotland on Sunday, and carried out a number of other roles during that time.

He said: “I joined The Scotsman in March 2000 and have held 11 different positions over 19 years.

“I am forever thankful for the opportunities and experiences the titles here have given me. I have travelled the world, covered the biggest stories and worked with many of the best journalists in Britain.

“I have made many great friends in my time here and will look back on this period with great fondness and with the certainty that our brands are in stronger shape for a sustainable digital future.”

Frank’s move comes after his predecessor Alan McCabe and Richard Prest, editor of the Sunday Post, were appointed to long-term secondments as part of a Google-funded project aimed at helping DC Thomson create a “more sustainable future”.

Frank told the P&J: “I am excited to be joining DC Thomson Media in the role of editor-in-chief of Aberdeen. The Press and Journal and Evening Express are historic and trusted brands with a strong connection to their communities.

“This relationship is vital in the digital era as we develop a deeper partnership with our readers. I was attracted to this role by DC Thomson Media’s commitment to a sustainable digital future that will ensure these news brands thrive for generations to come.”

In a joint message to staff, JPIMedia editor-in-chief Jeremy Clifford and group HR director Ian Johnston said: “Frank will leave the business on Friday, May 8 and goes with our blessing, sincere thanks and best wishes for his future career.

“We will begin the search for a new editorial director for Scotland immediately.”

The ‘Digital Acceleration’ project has seen journalists move away from the print production process and concentrate on digital work.

In the North Midlands and South Yorkshire, it is understood at least four managers who unsuccessfully applied for equivalent roles in the new set-up were invited to apply for reporter roles instead.

A number of new managerial positions were also created, with responsibilities across the whole division.

2 comments

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  • January 8, 2020 at 1:22 pm
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    No doubt a content shuffler will oversee the editor position on a lot less money.

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  • January 8, 2020 at 4:28 pm
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    That’s the way of the world Dave S, certainly the case where I am where the head of content is to all intents and purposes the editor and the editor is merely the go between up and down the line.

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