Paul Horrocks, editor of the Manchester Evening News, is to leave after 34 years with the paper.
Horrocks, who has been MEN editor for 12 years, is leaving to establish a media and communications agency.
MEN deputy editor Maria McGeoghan will become acting editor as publisher MEN Media, part of the Guardian Media Group, looks for a replacement.
Horrocks joined the MEN from the Daily Mail in April 1975. He worked in a succession of roles, including reporter, crime correspondent, news editor, assistant editor and deputy editor, before being appointed editor of the paper in 1997.
He said: “I have had an immensely enjoyable and rewarding time as a writer and later editor of a great newspaper. It has taken me to some incredible places and I have met so many interesting people.
“Leaving after such a long time is a wrench, but it is the right time for me and my family. I leave on the best of terms with Mark Dodson [chief executive of GMG Regional Media] and the rest of the management team and wish them every success in a tough environment.
“At the MEN we have created an integrated, multimedia newsroom that is the envy of many other publishing companies. It is an achievement I am proud of, and the whole editorial department shares in that.
“I wanted to see that process through, and oversee the move of our weekly newspaper journalists into Manchester, before departing. Through all that change, we have never lost our focus on community campaigns and quality journalism.
“It has been a privilege to work for GMG and a privilege to work with such talented journalists, who always set the news agenda for Greater Manchester and will continue to do so.”
One of the longest serving regional newspaper editors in the UK, Horrocks served a term as president of the Society of Editors and also sat on the on the Press Complaints Commission from 2002 to 2006.
He’s also a member of the appeals board for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and is a non-executive director of MIDAS, which promotes business investment in Greater Manchester.
As editor he oversaw the project to move the MEN to a mixed free/paid-for distribution.
In recent months the worsening state of the regional newspaper market has hurt MEN Media. In March the publisher announced that it was closing all its district newspaper offices and axing 150 staff as part of a massive cost saving drive.
The regional newspapers division of GMG reported profits of just £500,000 in the year to July as GMG returned overall losses of £89.8m for the period. GMG said its regional papers, including the MEN, associated weekly papers and its further titles in Surrey and Berkshire, had made a trading loss for the last six months.