IB Times editor-in-chief George Pitcher sacked weeks after outlining 'quality journalism' plan to Press Gazette

George Pitcher has been sacked as editor-in-chief of the UK edition of International Business Times weeks after outlining his vision to Press Gazette of traffic growth based on quality journalism.

Speaking to Press Gazette he revealed how monthly traffic to the site had grown 70 per cent year on year to 21m unique visitors per month.

He said: “You can’t just chase traffic. If you just run stories about how to reprogramme your iPhone 6 around photo galleries of Kim Kardasian’s backside you don’t keep the traffic because people don’t really want to be on sites as nerdy and as sleazy as that.”

He also said: “We are trying to push traffic by the production of quality journalism.

“I am convinced this can be done and will be out of a job if I don’t deliver it.”

Pitcher was sacked from his job early last month, after just over a year in charge of the 60-strong London-based newsroom.

According to Private Eye, Pitcher’s appointment had signaled a change of direction from an operation which previously had a reputation for “clickbait”.

It reported that his departure signaled a move towards “intensive click-farming”.

In addition to his journalism career, Pitcher is vicar of parish church in East Sussex.

IB Times told Press Gazette that Private Eye's report that journalists had been told to double traffic over the next year to 40m unique users a month was wide of the mark. A spokesperson said the traffic growth target was in fact to 30m.

IB Times publisher IBT Media also publishes Newsweek which in July this year made most of its London-based print edition team redundant 15 months after launch, including editor Richard Addis redundant. 

Pitcher declined to comment.

IB Media said: "George Pitcher's departure was based on a staffing decision at IBTimes UK. His contribution to the growth of editorial business was highly valued in the past 14 months. As we continue to build on our remarkable growth in the UK and across EMEA we have made recent changes to our editorial strategy for both IBTimes UK and Newsweek Europe. These changes reflect our commitment to better serve the growth in our audiences and loyal readers globally. 

"Matt McAllester was recently appointed as the new editor-in-chief for Newsweek Europe, as we continue to publish and develop our world-class journalism online and in print."

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