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Second weekly editor departs as publisher’s ‘decentralisation’ drive reversed

3U6HP2FM_400x400A second weekly editor is leaving JPIMedia in the space of a week amid plans to recreate a central editorial pool to cover mutiple titles.

Last week HTFP reported that Sheffield Telegraph editor Ellen Beardmore was leaving in a voluntary redundancy scheme currently being operated across JPI’s Yorkshire titles, along with several other long-serving staff.

Now it has emerged that Doncaster Free Press editor Liam Hoden’s role has also been made redundant, with the Free Press team being “reabsorbed” into that of sister daily the Sheffield Star.

The moves are an apparent reversal of the policy of ‘decentralisation’ introduced after the takeover of JPIMedia by National World at the start of 2021.

Initially, this saw the previous pool of reporters that covered the group’s South Yorkshire titles broken up and standalone editorial teams created for individual titles.

Both Liam, pictured, and Ellen were among a raft of new editors appointed at that time as part of the decentralisation drive.

However HTFP understands that the central team will now be recreated, with the two remaining Free Press reporters, Darren Burke and Stephanie Bateman, going into the pool along with sports reporter Paul Goodwin.

It is unclear whether similar moves are taking place in other parts of the JPIMedia group, and the company has declined to comment on the changes.

As well as Liam, this week saw the departures of long-serving Free Press reporter Kevin Rogers and long-standing editorial assistant Barbara Craythorn, both of whom have taken voluntary redundancy.

Meanwhile Free Press senior reporter Laura Andrew has moved to JPI’s National World title, as has Steven Ross, who was the sole remaining staffer at the Sheffield Telegraph following Ellen’s departure.

Liam announced his departure after 15 years with JPIMedia and its predecessor companies in a lengthy Twitter thread on Thursday.

He wrote: “The last ten months as editor of the Free Press has been an honour and I’ll wear that ex-editor badge with pride for the rest of my life. The team I’ve had the privilege of leading have been incredible and I wish all of them the very best for the future.

“We were determined to bring the Free Press back to Doncaster and restore it as the voice of the people of the borough. I believe we’ve made a good go at that, and the remaining team will continue to give their all to deliver the best coverage for Doncaster.

“I dreamed of writing about football from a young age and I’ve had the privilege of doing that for 14 years, with the last decade spent covering #drfc. I couldn’t have wished for a better club to have the honour of following up and down the country as well as day in, day out.”

Liam singled out former Sheffield Star sports editor Bob Westerdale and former Free Press deputy editor Kath Finlay among the journalists who had helped shape his career.

He wrote: “There have been some amazing people that have guided and helped me and I’ll forever be thankful. I have to give special mention to those that showed real belief and trust in me along the way, namely Bob Westerdale, Kath Finlay and, of course, my mentor and friend Peter Catt.

“I’ve worked with dozens of people and made some incredible friends – in particular the sports lads at The Star, past and present, my long time workmate Paul Goodwin, plus some special people at the Free Press over the years – people who never get/got the credit they deserve.

“It’s been a job that’s introduced me to some incredible people and afforded me wonderful opportunities. Walking away from it was not an easy decision at all but I’m excited for the future, especially giving some more time to the most understanding family I’m so lucky to have.”

Other long-serving JPIMedia journalists in the Yorkshire region who have taken voluntary redundancy under the current scheme include Yorkshire Post photographer Gary Longbottom, cartoonist Graeme Bandeira and features editor Chris Bond.

It follows the December restructure which saw two of JPIMedia’s regional editorial directors, Gillian Gray and Joy Yates, leave their roles.