News editor Melody Ryall has been appointed acting editor at Kentish Times Newspapers. The 10 paid-for and six free weeklies, owned by Independent News & Media (UK), have been without a group editor since May when Pip Clarkson resigned.
Ryall faced a staffing crisis in her newsroom when she took over this week. Three reporters, a trainee and a sub-editor at the titles have left or resigned in the past month, leaving just four reporters to cover Gravesend, Dartford, Bexley and Bromley.
However, Lawrie Procter, regional managing director of Independent News & Media (UK), assured Press Gazette all the posts would be filled by the time the last resignees leave.
The papers have been managed since Clarkson’s departure by Ryall and joint news editor Mary Barber.
In her first six months in her new position, Ryall will have the help of the experienced group editor of East London Newspapers, Richard Tidiman, who is also the editor of the East London Advertiser.
Procter said he felt Ryall had a huge amount of potential to do the job.
She has been with Kentish Times since April 2000, and recently collected the award for feature journalist of the year at the company’s internal awards, judged by Independent editor Simon Kelner.
She has previously worked in senior editorial positions for both Associated Kent Newspapers and Adscene.
During Tidiman’s secondment to Kent, Pat O’Connor, editor of the Stratford and Newham Express, will also edit the East London Advertiser.
Procter, giving the news in an internal memo, wished Ryall every success in her new position and thanked all the Kentish Times staff for their patience.
By Jean Morgan