The Meeting was promptly opened by Chairman Michael Cochrane with six apologies having been given. A reminder of the Christmas Lunch was made and notice that menu’s/payments needed to be with John Taylor by Tuesday 18th November.
Mrs Jean Macquarrie Editor of the Harrogate Advertiser was the guest speaker and a “Meet the Editor” interlude took place. Mrs Macquarrie had been Editor of the Advertiser for over 20 years and it was 10 years since she had last spoken to the Forum. The Harrogate Advertiser started life in 1836 and was basically a list of prominent visitors staying in Harrogate each week. Ackrill’s was the family name who originally owned the paper. In 1984 the newspaper changed hands to United Newspapers then again to Regional Independent Media and 12 years ago to Johnstone Press P.L.C.. the second biggest Regional publisher in the U.K. Throughout all these changes complete Editorial independence and integrity has been maintained as well as maintenance of political independence. The impact of going tabloid was discussed and some initial negativity which the paper responded too and mention was made of the ongoing bugbear of spelling and grammatical errors against a background of tight cost control and reducing staff posts. More recent issues include the massive growth in the Web audience–larger than the traditional print readership with advertising revenue by far the biggest income stream for the paper but moving increasingly to digital advertising and the likely introduction of apprenticeships back into the company. Some well known former Advertiser employees were given a name check including Martin Sixsmith and John Craven.
Following on from Mrs Macquarrie’s overview was a lively and active question and answer session covering a variety of topics including critical style of reporting; printing and distribution; coverage of local and county council issues; levels of reporters and photographers (numbers) and the post- Leveson position of the Group. It was obvious from the comments and questions that there had been a high level of engagement with the morning’s Speaker.
The Vote of Thanks was given by Peter Staples on behalf of the 35 attendees.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY