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July 26, 2023

Reach digital sport boss and ex-Hull Daily Mail editor leaves company

Neil Hodgkinson said he wants to find his "next adventure".

By Charlotte Tobitt

Reach’s digital sport boss Neil Hodgkinson, a former editor of the Hull Daily Mail, is leaving the company after 12 years.

Hodgkinson has been audience and content director (digital sport) since early 2022, leading the sport vertical at the national and regional publisher and ensuring sport was a strong focus during the launches of the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Irish Star in the US this year.

Following Hodgkinson’s departure work will be done to “build the best reporting structure for sport,” the publisher said. In the meantime head of national sport Jake Murtagh and deputy managing editor (sport) Mat Kendrick will report to chief digital publisher David Higgerson.

Hodgkinson joined Reach, then Trinity Mirror, in 2011 when he left the Cumbrian Newspapers Group to edit the Hull Daily Mail.

His other roles since then have included editor-in-chief of the Humber and Lincoln regions and marketplace publisher for the North East and Yorkshire. He led the 2020 launch of Yorkshire Live as editor-in-chief.

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Hodgkinson said he wanted to “see what is out there for the next adventure”.

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“Hopefully I have made a positive impact on people’s careers both within Reach and elsewhere during an amazing time for the industry that saw hot metal and linotype printing end, full page makeup come in and digital journalism move alongside and then ahead of print,” he said.

“For a council-house kid from Fleetwood it has been a great ride and one that many people – including my parents – never thought I’d make. It was the ‘posh job’ and even my dad made me get a physics O-level in case it didn’t work out and I could join him as an electrician. My mum was a cleaner and never fully understood what I did. Even on her deathbed, she asked me to tell the nurse ‘what’s that funny job you do, again?’ However, I must be the only editor who can fit wall lights! 

“I have had the privilege to cover some of the biggest stories in recent world history from the Falklands War, the fall of Ceausescu, the death of Diana and 9/11. I have also been involved in many major local stories, none more than the 7/7 bombers who travelled from Leeds to strike terror into London and Derrick Bird, the Cumbrian taxi driver who killed 12 people in a shooting spree. They were tragedies that affected communities greatly and carried a burden of responsibility to ensure we didn’t let them down. 

“On a more positive note we raised millions for charities, raised money for schools and helped improve lives on inner-city estates. I have met the Queen (and our King), interviewed Margaret Thatcher one-to-one sat on bar stools in the Marine Hall in Fleetwood in 1983, spoken to politicians either side of the divide in Israel, visited South Africa and met people risking their lives to end apartheid, attended the Beijing Olympics and taken part in Exercise Lionheart, which was the biggest movement of troops across Europe since WW2.”

Reach chief operating officer Alan Edmunds described Hodgkinson as a “superb editor and leader” while Higgerson said he “has always set the standard for what journalism, especially local journalism, should aspire to.

“Countless careers have been built upon Neil’s advice, support and guidance including many people working within Reach today,” Higgerson continued. “His leadership of digital sport has been brilliant to see, and I’m sure all of us wish him well after such a long and distinguished career.”

Several senior Reach editorial figures have left in recent months, including group editor-in-chief Lloyd Embley last week.

Other departures this year have included ex-Manchester Evening News editor-in-chief Darren Thwaites who had most recently been working on UK-wide strategic projects, interim audience and content director for video and audio Alison Gow, audience and content director (audience delivery) Ed Walker, Youtube editor Tom Canning, Hull Daily Mail editor Jamie Macaskill, Teesside Gazette editor Ian McNeal, Leicester Mercury and Coventry Telegraph editor Adam Moss, and Burton Mail editor Julie Crouch.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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