Michael Beard, the new editor of Brighton’s evening paper, The Argus, has been described by his new employers as a man of “vision and dynamism”.
Beard, 44, has been at the Johnston Press-owned Hastings Observer group of weeklies, which are 36 miles up the Sussex coast from Brighton, for the last four years.
Previous Argus editor Simon Bradshaw left the Newsquest daily abruptly in October after six years with the paper. His departure followed an up-market relaunch in January which saw much community news dropped.
Instead of increasing sales the relaunch was followed by an increase in the rate of decline. The paper’s last ABC was down seven per cent year-on year (Mon to Fri) to 41,383.
At the Hastings-based Observer series Beard has been in charge of the Hastings Observer (circulation 22,411), the Bexhill Observer (9,754) and the Rye and Battle Observer (6,451). His new title is group editor Newsquest Sussex.
Martyn Willis, managing director of Newsquest Sussex, said: “We have taken a lot of care to find the right person to take our products, and in particular The Argus, forward into a new era for Newsquest Sussex.
“I believe we have found in Michael Beard a man with the experience, vision and dynamism to lead our team of quality journalists to successfully serve the widest possible community in the city of Brighton & Hove and Sussex as a whole, with newspapers of which we can be hugely proud. I am very much looking forward to working with him.”
Beard began his career as a trainee reporter on the Sidmouth Herald in 1978 and completed his NCTJ training in 1982. He then spent three years at the Midweek Herald in Torquay as a reporter before going to the Exmouth Herald for three years as chief reporter.
He joined the Herald Express in 1988 as senior reporter, becoming deputy news editor in 1989. He then joined Exeter’s Express and Echo as news editor in 1993, was promoted to assistant editor in 1996 and then joined the Plymouth Evening Herald as assistant editor in January 1997, staying until December 1999.
He spent six months as assistant editor at the Western Daily Press before becoming group editor of the Observer series in 2000.
By Dominic Ponsford