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Long-serving editor to make comeback as publisher launches new title

Jim Parker 1A former editor who stepped down from his role 18 months ago is to make a comeback editing a new title on his old patch.

Jim Parker, left, was editor of the Reach plc-owned Torquay Herald Express for nine years until the summer of 2018.

He has now been named as launch editor of The Torbay Weekly, a new print and digital title being launched by regional publisher Archant in the spring.

Archant, which already publishes several titles in Devon, says the move is in response to “direct feedback” from local businesses and community groups.

Another former Reach plc executive, Chris Coward, will oversee the launch, which will see the creation of six new editorial and commercial roles.

Chris previously worked in a variety of commercial roles for Northcliffe and its successor companies Local World and Reach plc including consumer sales director.

He said: “This project is entirely demand-led. We have been approached countless times by local businesses and community groups who all tell us of the need for a quality, local paper.”

“Torbay is in the midst of a major rejuvenation. Readers and advertisers want a relevant local paper that lives and breathes their area and has a genuine belief in Torbay”.

Archant’s executive chairman Simon Bax added: “We have assembled a fantastic management team with a wealth of local knowledge. This will enable us to deliver a distinctive, quality service in Torbay whilst strengthening our overall Devon portfolio”.

“This project is a great example of Archant’s customer-centric approach and how we stay relevant by listening and responding to the needs of our communities.”

Jim spent 44 years in the regional press, 40 of them with the Herald Express, before finally leaving Reach last March.

At the time he said: “I am not yet ready to retire to the other side of the cricket boundary. Watch this space.”

10 comments

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  • January 20, 2020 at 2:26 pm
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    First Archant move in on JPI territory in Peterborough now they’ve barged into Reach in Torquay, looks like when all else fails it’s gloves off between publishers

    I’m sure Norfolk or Suffolk are in the sights of the main groups now i they’re looking to expand into areas under served with local news and who could blame the them if they launch there, the public and local businesses would certainly welcome it

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  • January 20, 2020 at 2:43 pm
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    I always wish these people all the luck in the world, but always fear it’s all a bit ‘deckchairs Titanic’. Seen so many stories on here over the last five years of new publications being launched and then floundering. I really hope this succeeds and, along with others, restores my faith.

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  • January 20, 2020 at 2:44 pm
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    The emphasis should be on “quality”. One of the major reasons local news is in the sorry state we find it today is because newsrooms now rely on cut n’ pasting press releases and thinking that is job done.

    And where do you find the staff? What young reporter would want to work for a print product in 2020?

    That said good luck.

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  • January 20, 2020 at 3:41 pm
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    I’m surprised these chaps haven’t opened their own independent local news paper if they claim there’s a huge demand for one rather than go to Archant. Many ex RP staff deemed surplus to requirements are making a real success in their own localities by producing papers the public want.

    Good luck to them though, they’ll certainly need it!

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  • January 20, 2020 at 3:51 pm
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    The word “quality” ( a noun) is meaningless without a qualifying adjective Mr Editor.
    I guess he means high quality.

    Contrary to popular belief you cannot have quality products or quality footballers or quality companies. But you can have good or high quality, or even low quality.

    Anyway, any new paper is welcome , particularly a good quality one. So good luck.

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  • January 20, 2020 at 4:53 pm
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    @Percy Hoskins
    It won’t be a print publication for too long after it’s launch unless it’s a paid for title , Archant are converting their free weeklies to online editions only, the migration process has already started in Norfolk

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  • January 20, 2020 at 4:59 pm
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    @Russ
    There’s nothing wrong with going online but I’m guessing the demand is coming from businesses who want a good quality newspaper to advertise in.

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  • January 21, 2020 at 12:51 pm
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    I’m a bit confused by this. Torbay already has a weekly paper, the Herald Express, which was edited by Jim Parker until July 2018 and with which Jim remained involved until last year.

    While I’m happy to believe there might be demand for a ‘quality, local paper’ in the area, if the Herald Express isn’t fulfilling this purpose then I can’t see the logic of recruiting the person responsible for shaping its identity to oversee this new project.

    For what it’s worth, I’d like to think there remains a place for quality, local papers. However, it’s plainly a tough market and, it seems to me, if you’re to stand any chance of succeeding you’re going to need to innovate and think outside the box.

    What I suspect we’ll get here is a near-replica of the Herald Express dressed up in an Archant template and I’m wholly unconvinced anyone in the English riviera is crying out for that.

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  • January 21, 2020 at 2:25 pm
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    In one Fred Funk
    Exactly that
    It would be interesting to see the qualitative and quantifiable research that backs up these word of mouth claims as I doubt any publisher would be foolish enough to launch a publication in an area they aren’t market leaders in on the say so of a couple of ‘veteran’ competitor publisher ex employees, one of whom was editor of the publication whose effectiveness is now being called into question by claims it’s no longer fulfilling its purpose.
    I also don’t believe another publisher opening a corporate, and highly likely templated weekly, is the answer when we’ve seen how successful independent publications by smaller community groups are elsewhere.

    There’s more to this than meets the eye, a softly softly move onto a rivals patch maybe?

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