The Post under editor Watson: critically acclaimed but sales fell
Regional Press Awards Newspaper of the Year editor Tony Watson is quitting the Yorkshire Post after 13 years.
He will leave at the end of December and does not appear to have another job lined up, although colleagues say he has told them he has "one or two irons in the fire".
The Post changed hands in April when Johnston Press bought out the former owner, Regional Indepen-dent Media.
Staff were shocked by Watson’s decision when it was announced last Friday. Yorkshire Post Newspapers is advertising for a replacement who has has already made a mark "as editor of a significant title".
Under Watson’s editorship, the Post has had a redesign, seen the introduction of supplements and launched a series of investigative campaigns.
Judges at this year’s Press Gazette Regional Press Awards said: "This paper would deserve to be read in any corner of the globe."
At the same ceremony, the Post was named daily newspaper of the year and took the team of the year title for its coverage of last year’s September 11 terrorist attacks.
The Post has also won numerous other awards. But sales in the first half of the year were down eight per cent.
Watson, 47, first joined the Yorkshire Post as a reporter in 1984, and won several individual industry awards, including provincial journalist of the year in the British Press Awards.
He later joined Granada TV’s World in Action, before returning to the Post in 1988 as deputy editor.
The following year Watson was promoted to become the paper’s 10th – and youngest, at 34 – editor. Watson told his readers on Saturday: "To edit one of the country’s leading newspapers has been a great honour and a tremendous challenge, which I have thoroughly enjoyed.
"I have had the privilege of working with some very talented and dedicated journalists, whose skill and professionalism have contributed so much over the years to the reputation and success of the Yorkshire Post. I will miss them greatly."
His managing director Chris Green paid tribute to Watson, saying: "During his time in the chair, the newspaper and its journalists have won a host of industry awards. We regret his decision and he will be difficult to replace."
Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said of Watson: "He is highly respected and he has taken a great newspaper to new heights, as all the awards that have stacked up for the Post show."
Internally, there is speculation that Neil Hodgkinson, editor of sister title the Yorkshire Evening Post, could be in the frame for Watson’s job.
By Jean Morgan