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June 4, 2018updated 05 Jun 2018 9:33am

Archant merges north London news teams leaving historic Ham and High newspaper without its own editor

By Freddy Mayhew

The Ham and High newspaper, which has been published for nearly 150 years, no longer has its own dedicated editor after changes to the team at publisher Archant’s north London newsroom.

The paper, officially known as the Hampstead and Highgate Express, and its two slip editions: the Wood and Vale, and the Ham and High Broadway, is now under the editorship of Hackney Gazette editor Ramzy Alwakeel.

Alwakeel, who also edits the Islington Gazette and now the Brent and Kilburn Times, oversees all four titles in his new role as north London editor, effective as of last week.

A merged team of seven reporters, including chief reporter Sam Gelder, and features editor Bridget Galton will work across the north London titles.

An Archant spokesperson confirmed the changes but would not comment further.

The regional publisher made all of its news editors redundant last year in a restructure that centralised production design at its headquarters in Norwich.

However, Press Gazette understands the editorial team is now responsible for templating pages, placing stories and subbing copy before sending the pages to print.

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Under Alwakeel’s editorship of the Hackney Gazette, investigative reporter Emma Youle won last year’s Paul Foot Award for her probe into the borough”s “hidden homeless”, which ran in the Gazette.

The Ham & High’s former editor, Emily Banks, who was at the helm of the paper since late 2016 and has left the company as a result of the changes, said it was “sad” the title, founded in 1872, did not have its own editor.

She said: “It is a historic newspaper and the pride of Archant’s London portfolio. It’s had such a great reputation for so many years and now it doesn’t even have its own editor or its own news team.”

Banks said editing the weekly paper, where she first launched her career as a reporter, had been her “dream job”, adding: “I was editor of my local paper that I grew up with. It was more than just a job, it was my passion.”

Archant is set to close its office in Finchley Road, north London, where the Ham and High team is based, and is relocating some staff 13 miles away at its office in Barking, east London.

Editorial staff are understood to be remaining in north London, but will no longer be on patch for the Ham and High. The new office, in Newington Green, will put the team on the border of Islington and Hackney.

The Ham and High has a weekly circulation of about 8,000, of which more than 5,000 are free copies, according to ABC figures to the end of December 2017.

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