Brighton freesheet head leaves after only eight weeks

Exclusive by Sarah Lagan

Assistant editor at The Argus Lite, John Osborne, has left the Brighton paper just eight weeks into the project, claiming there were not enough resources.

Osborne was drafted in by editor Michael Beard to head up the Newsquest free, which was launched against Metro in February to complement the paid-for edition of The Argus.

Osborne, whose background is in national newspaper sports production, told Press Gazette: "I was brought in to edit and develop Argus Lite with the emphasis, as far as I was concerned, on the word ‘develop’.

"I discovered quite early on that Newsquest really isn’t the company that’s going to invest in and develop a paper like that. They didn’t have the manpower; there was just myself and two subs producing it.

"It transpired that no one else was going to be brought in and under those circumstances I decided it wasn’t the place for me.

"Those involved have done a good job and to date they have a very good product."

Osborne said he was not concerned about the working hours but claims to have done around 75 hours of unpaid overtime in eight weeks.

Argus managing director Martyn Willis said: "I would like to thank John Osborne for his services and I am sorry that his brief time in regional newspapers was not what he expected.

"Since John’s departure, a review of our subbing resource has taken place and we are satisfied that the actions we have taken and appointments we have made, one in particular, will continue to stimulate the growth and development of The Argus Lite."

Despite the launch of the Lite, circulation decline of the paid-for Argus steadied slightly in the last set of ABCs, to a fall of 8.3 per cent, compared to a drop of 11.1 per cent in the previous period.

Osborne worked on the Express for 12 years in various roles and worked mainly in sports production on the Daily Mirror, Daily Star and Today.

Three years ago he moved to Canada to freelance as a feature writer before returning to the UK when his visa expired.

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