Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Is there life after editing?

I've done a piece for the latest issue of Press Gazette, out today, about what life is like for editors once they leave newspapers.
The hook for the article is the departure of Paul Horrocks from the Manchester Evening News and the decision by Steve Dyson and Marc Reeves to quit the Birmingham Mail and Birmingham Post by the end of this year.
Among ex-editors contributing to the article were former regional newspaper editors Mike Lowe, David Gledhill, Anita Syvret (pictured) Neil Fowler, Nick Carter, Robin Fletcher, Mike Glover and Chris Rushton and former B2B editor Andrew Pring.
Syvret, ex-editor of the Gloucestershire Echo, probably best summed up the views of regional editors who have left newspapers in the past few years.
She says: “I consider myself lucky to have spent 30 years in regional newspapers when they were at their very best. It’s tough out there now. And the people left in charge are holding in their hands, not just the future of the industry, but a fundamental element of local democracy. How will they continue to produce excellence when the model of advertising and local news wrapped up in a dead tree is no longer profitable enough? And no one has yet worked out how to make news on the internet pay.
“The worst case scenario is that ‘the local rag’ goes belly-up in one British town after another, and with it will die a community touchstone, the lifeblood of British society, and guardian of local democracy. As for the readers - they won’t even notice their local paper has gone until it’s too late.
“The best we can hope is that the men and women now at the helm, caught between reduced profits and an ever greater demand for resources, don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. And that the readers and advertisers stick with them.”
The ex-editors are now variously consultants, PRs, and academics. One is working in magazines, another chairs an economic development body and one has set up an online company selling "bags to blokes".
The article is not online. You have to buy a copy of Press Gazette magazine (now subscription only) to read it.

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