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Political editor quits daily after 14 years to join rival title

Sam McBrideA political editor has left a regional daily after 14 years to join a rival title.

Sam McBride has said farewell to the Belfast News Letter and has revealed he will soon be joining the Belfast Telegraph and its Dublin-based sister title the Sunday Independent in an as-yet-undisclosed new role.

Sam, pictured, has been in charge of the News Letter’s political coverage for all bar his first 18 months at the newspaper.

In a farewell column, Sam reflected upon the changes that had taken place in the industry over the past decade-and-a-half.

He wrote: “In my time at the News Letter, the number of journalists has roughly halved – as it has in many other newspapers. That is not quite as bad as it sounds because technology allows us to be more efficient.

“But there are inescapable consequences to staffing falling so sharply. It is much harder to do the sort of in-depth journalism which was possible when I arrived in 2007.

“It is not only newspapers which face challenges. UTV has in that time seen a deluge of experience depart. Only the BBC retains vast journalistic resources, but even that is coming under pressure.”

In the column, Sam went on to examine how the coroanvirus pandemic had changed things again.

He wrote: “The pandemic drove dramatic behavioural change; suddenly far larger numbers of people are prepared to pay for news, probably driven by a mixture of the convenience (and far cheaper cost) of online subscriptions and a realisation that newspapers will only survive if they are economically viable.

“But the internet has also meant an acceleration of news in the 21st century – we can forget what was reported last week, let alone a few years ago. In that process we risk making more mistakes and getting caught on a treadmill of breaking news, without the time to consider or investigate an issue with the benefit of time for reflection.”

Added Sam: “I will always maintain affection for a paper which I remember my father reading on the farm and for which I have been privileged to write.

“I never really regarded myself as being employed by Century Newspapers or Johnston Press or JPIMedia or National World, but by you the readers. Without readers, none of this would be written. For that I thank you sincerely.”