Martin swops Belfast for leafy Hampstead

Martin: "going back to what I do best"

By Jean Morgan

News Letter editor Geoff Martin, who has been 12 years in the frontline of Belfast journalism, is returning to his roots in weekly newspapers as the new editor of the Hampstead & Highgate Express series.

The series recently lost editor Ross Lydall to the Evening Standard, departing, he said, "to go back to real journalism".  Owners CML, a subsidiary of Archant, said competition for the post had been fierce.

Martin told Press Gazette: "I’m aware of the difficulties there have been at the Ham&High but then, all newspapers are having their difficulties these days. But I think the management there is absolutely committed to retaining the special place the Ham&High holds in the community."

It is understood he accepted the Ham&High position over an offer to move within the Trinity Mirror group.  Asked why he had chosen to move from a daily back to a weekly, Martin said: "It sounds like a strange move, doesn’t it? I suppose it was because I wanted a new challenge in a completely new environment. I was well impressed with the company and with Archant. It looked like a very forward-looking and dynamic team."  Martin went to the News Letter from the Berks & Bucks Observer. "I’ve always had a fondness for newspapers that really meant something in their own communities and I am going back to my roots," he observed.

"My journalistic heart is in strong local newspapers that have status within and are valued by their own communities. So I think I’m really going back to do what I do best."

Martin is the first editor the paper has had for more than century who is not a local journalist.

Garry Matthews, regional director for Archant, said: "We had an impressive line-up of candidates, including senior people from the regional dailies.

"Geoff impressed us as an experienced journalist used to performing at the highest level, who can build on the recent success of the Ham&High in growing its circulation and making it more relevant to its readership.

"He will inherit a skilled and enthusiastic team at the Ham&High and its sister paper, the Highbury & Islington Express, who I am sure will welcome the skills and passion that Geoff will bring to the position."

 High&I deputy editor John Dunne has been promoted to deputy editor of the Ham&High series.

Martin quipped: "I’m tempted to say that I am going back to the Ham&High to go back to real journalism."

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