Terry Manners, the Press Association executive and former editor-in-chief of Express Newspapers in Scotland, is to be the new editor of Northcliffe’s Western Daily Press in Bristol.
He succeeds Ian Beales, who left this week after 34 years on the paper, more than 20 as editor.
Manners is the third editor with an Express and Fleet Street background to have been recently appointed to a Northcliffe editorship.
The others are former Daily Express news editor Alan Qualtrough, who was this month named editor of the Plymouth Evening Herald, and former Express assistant editor Roger Watkins who last year was made editor of the four-title Brentwood Gazette series.
In January, Northcliffe ran an advert aimed at wooing national journalists back to the regions under the slogan, "Do you work in Fleet Street and want to be an editor?" Manners, 53, who worked for Express Newspapers for 20 years, was night editor of the Daily Express in London for five years and then assistant editor, before moving to Scotland. He joined PA as associate editor, the No.3 position in its senior editorial management team.
Manners, who takes up his new post on 14 May, said: "By taking people in their 50s with a Fleet Street background Northcliffe is saying, ‘come and build our papers, bring people on and pass onto people what you know’. Northcliffe has opened its doors to look at people who have learned their professionalism the hard way. We are bringing something else to the party."
He is planning a major overhaul and redesign of the Western Daily Press. "As soon as I get in I will look at everything. I am going to start with strong layouts, well-projected stories and look at story development. I am going to go right through from the front cover to the back and look at every aspect of the book in a three-year plan.
"We’ve got to make the book authoritative and entertaining. I want to be hard on all the heels of all the opposition all over the West Country and the Cotswolds.
"I enjoyed working at PA with Paul Potts but I deeply, deeply missed the culture of newspapers. When the opportunity came up to talk to Northcliffe I was thrilled when they started to talk to me about the Western Daily Press. It’s a legendary paper and I am very proud to get the chair." Beales, 56, told staff he was leaving at an office celebration to mark the paper winning the BT South West Newspaper of the Year award for the fourth time. He told Press Gazette: "I am not Mrs Thatcher – I don’t intend to go on and on. We are going to have a redesign and I decided to go ahead of it rather than after it."
Beales is deputy chairman of the Editors’ Code Committee and was one of the journalists who helped frame the code which underpins the work of the Press Complaints Commission. He is expected to resign from the post.
Sales of the Western Daily Press were down by 10.9 per cent in the latest half-year ABC figures but circulation is said to have picked up since then following the foot and mouth crisis.
Alec Davidson, managing director of Northcliffe Newspapers, said Beales had been "the driving force behind the prestigious and influential position the Western Daily Press now holds within the community."
by Jon Slattery