By Jon Slattery
Former Yorkshire Post editor Rachael Campey is among the recruits for Britain’s newest regional newspaper — The North West Enquirer — which launches on 27 April.
Campey, who left the YP in September 2004 after a turbulent 18 months in charge, will be an associate editor and edit a lifestyle supplement for the new weekly, which is aiming for an AB up-market readership across the Northwest of England.
Editor Bob Waterhouse has also recruited Paul Blebta, former night editor of the Daily Express as his deputy editor/production editor.
Blebta has been lecturing in journalism at the University of Lancashire after leaving the Express.
Another former national journalist joining the independent paper is William ‘Bill’
Hall, who was northern correspondent of the Financial Times. Hall took redundancy from the FT.
The Enquirer will have a total editorial staff of 17. More than 400 journalists applied for jobs on the paper.
Waterhouse told Press Gazette: "We’ve had a huge number of applications and I think that we’ve put together the best team that we can."
Surprisingly for a weekly, The Enquirer has attracted a number of recruits from big city regional dailies.
"I think that is because we were prepared to pay a little bit more," Waterhouse said.
"By and large they are young people and they fancy the challenge.
"We do believe we are in a niche of our own. We have to compete in the newsagents and on the newsstands and produce a newspaper whose USP is different."
He told Press Gazette in December: "The paper will be editorially led and stand or fall on the quality of its reporting and of its whole editorial."
What makes The Enquirer unique for a weekly is its aim to cover such a wide region of the UK. It wants to appeal to AB readers across the Northwest in Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cheshire.
The Enquirer’s picture editor is Howard Barlow, who is a freelance photographer for The Guardian, The Observer, The Sunday Times and The Independent.
Among staff recruited from regional dailies are sports editor David Prior, currently deputy sports editor, Liverpool Daily Post.
The Enquirer is aiming to give in-depth coverage to up-market participatory sports such as golf, squash, tennis, hockey, lacrosse and rugby.
Education/health correspondent is Anne Arnold, a senior reporter on the Sheffield Star. Environment correspondent Jason Teasdale joins from the Bradford Telegraph & Argus, where he is City Hall reporter.
Government correspondent is Andy McFarlane, former court reporter, Hull Daily Mail. Hard news reporter is Ciara Leeming, previously chief reporter, Flintshire Evening Leader.
The deputy chief sub is Claire Grey of the Liverpool Echo. Senior sub is Jon Whitaker, former chief sub of the Manchester Evening News. Regeneration supplement editor is Paul Unger, former business editor, Liverpool Daily Post, and northern property correspondent for Property Week. He is the son of Mike Unger, former editor of the Manchester Evening News. The Enquirer will take the full Press Association service.
For the launch period Waterhouse will act as features editor. Blebta will have an overview of news and production and Campey will write regularly for the main paper.
Waterhouse is in discussion with regionally- based columnists and reviewers and should be in a position to announce their names in a couple of weeks’ time, along with remaining staff posts.
The Enquirer, whose managing director is Nick Jaspan, has secured seven-figure backing from two venture capitalist firms and 12 individuals. It hopes for a settle down circulation of between 15,000 and 20,000 and will have a £1 cover price. It will be distributed by the FT and has a head office at Bank House in Manchester.
Non-executive directors of the paper include former Trinity Mirror regional newspaper chief Stephen Parker.
The launch is seen as an antidote to the gloom surrounding the established regional newspaper groups which are trying to counter falling sales and advertising revenues by axing jobs and making cuts.