Departing Northern Echo editor Peter Barron warns that future of local journalism cannot be built on 'clickbait'

The departing editor of the Northern Echo left with a plea that local journalism be given time and support for quality work rather than "clickbait".

Peter Barron bowed out after 17 years on Friday with an editorial which mused on some of his great successes at the regional daily.

These included an appeal launched after Princess Diana’s death which was instrumental in building the Butterwick Children’s Hospice.

Barron also remembered a four-year-old girl with a growth on her face, for whom £40,000 was raised within days to send her to America for life-changing surgery.

Another campaign resulted in huge reductions in heart bypass waiting times in Britain after a friend and colleague of Barron waited eight months for an urgent operation before dying.

He wrote: “Local newspapers have a vital role to play in society and my parting wish is that they are given the time and support for quality, campaigning journalism that makes a difference to people’s lives.

“The future of local journalism cannot just be built on 'click-bait' – stories which attract the biggest number of hits online.

“There will be those who call me a dinosaur but if I see another 'stomach-churning compilation of the best spot-squeezing videos' on a 'news' website, I may well take a hammer to my computer.

“Exploding spots may get lots of hits, and that may attract digital advertising revenue, but it isn’t news.”

Barron, the paper’s longest-serving editor, said he plans to continue to work as a journalist and will write a column for the Echo.

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