News Letter Editor Resigns

Austin Hunter has resigned as the editor of the News Letter.

His tenure as editor was a commercial success with some growth in sales, the paper became more mainstream Unionist again in its stance but the David Montgomery inspired plan of the News Letter becoming the focus of a “Positively Protestant” debate never really developed (hampered by the poor quality, and disinterest in such a debate, of its journalists).

Who will replace him? What changes should a new editor make? A decent non-UUP Unionist columnist of the standard of Alex Kane would be nice – Stalford’s replacement produces uninspiring material reading far too much like a party press statement. An investigative journalist on equality issues affecting the Unionist community would be useful too.

  • Shore Road Resident

    The Sunday World has had a journalist murdered by loyalists and a columnist shot by loyalists.
    It is also the subject of ongoing violent boycotts by loyalists, who have burnt down one newsagents and attacked others.

    But that all counts for nothing when republicans don’t like what it prints, and so the absurd smears begin.

    The illiterate and disjointed rambling alone of the above post suggests a truly disturbed mind.

  • GWB

    And you’re saying that Gavin Robinson’s awful performance is any worse than Stalford or for that matter St Clair McAllister? Not an independant thought amongst them.

  • urquhart

    The News Letter needs serious investment – the long succession of investors who come in, make a quick buck and then piss off has taken its toll.

    The paper needs a serious redesign and needs to go colour if it is to have any chance of surviving long term. As to who will edit it? Fair Deal,are you looking for a job?

  • fair_deal


    I had forgotten about St Clair Allister (eyes roll). As for Stalford his material was better written although his views were too “Tory Boy” for my taste but at least they managed to get a reaction by grating me. GR’s material just bores.


    “are you looking for a job?”

    LMAO. I work in the community sector thus I am always looking for a job 😉 but that particular job was not on my list.

  • slug

    I agree that a new thoughtful and intelligent columnist for saturday would be good – whether uup or not. Some of these young unionists could be interesting, judging by the Young Unionists website blog.

  • Jack Black

    Gavin isn’t a bad sort really, his problem is that he’s been in the DUP too long. Can you imagine Alex Kane getting away with what he does in the DUP and expect to retain his membership card? Ask a member of a fascist regieme to write a column every week and don’t expect to be even mildly interested in what he has to say.

  • Jacko

    Maybe the Newsletter should try and tempt Roy Garland away from the Irish News.

  • jone

    The choice of columnists should be the least of the new editor’s worries. The Newsletter needs to invest in its shoestring news operation.

    Compare it to the Irish News where Barry McCafferty and Sharon O’Neill provide a regular supply of decent, off diary splashes – some of which are genuine agenda setting exclusives.

    The Bel Tel has been the best of any local outlet in using FoI requests and have made the running on the education funding crisis.

    But apart from the odd scoop from Stephen Dempster it’s depressing how often the Newsletter splashes are either PA or else reheated press releases from Ian jnr or, even worse, Jim Alister.

    And the new ed also needs to do something with the leader page; running a very dull politics spread across 8 and 9 every bloody day is a wasted opportunity.

  • Shore Road Resident

    Roy Garland would be mad to leave the Irish News – in fact, anyone would be mad to leave the Irish News. It’s the only paper in the north that isn’t going down the toilet.

  • heck


    what about the “man ball” rule? is’nt joinedupthinking’s comments on danny morrison on the wrong side of the line?

  • Jacko

    Shore Road Resident
    I was only joking – Roy would hardly be the catch of the year.

  • Shore Road Resident

    Oh I see…
    Never read him myself to be honest – which I suppose proves your point.

  • The Watchman

    Gissa job

  • dodrade

    The standard of the editorials has been dire for some time. I could do better myself if they would have me.

  • fair_deal


    Don’t think Mick is about today and I don’t know how to remove comments.

    Also it is probably my fault for raising the issue of columnists as well as some of my own comments creating a tone. It is hard to discuss the quality of a columnist without breaching the man/ball rule.

  • Jacko


    Was the precedent not set by a similar comment on this guy Gavin from Jack Black?

  • fair_deal


    I think I set the precedent before Jack Black

  • Jack Black

    “Gavin isn’t a bad sort really”

    Man not ball, of course you’re right, I apologise.

  • Tiny

    the Newsletter is little more than a DUP propaganda sheet, absolutely no objectivity, all they seem to do is publish exactly what the party tells them to, the other day the front page led with Paisley telling Ahern to mind his own business, no evidence of Paisley having been asked how he was going to keep Ahern out of our business, isn’t that what serious papers do?

  • Tiny

    “Gavin isn’t a bad sort really”

    Did anybody read his piece today, priceless, the Union is safe, we can sleep soundly, how do we know, easy, Dr Paisley say’s so!!!!!!!!!

    on a serious note, Hunter’s editorial line was very much pro DUP, perhaps he has decided to jump before the ‘train wreck’ in November, it will be interesting to see what line the next editor takes

  • Rory

    I think there is a serious misunderstanding of the “man/ball” rule. If the thread is discussing a third party e.g. Pope Benedict, John Wayne, Groucho Marx, whoever, then that third party is the “ball” and as much criticism of him is allowed and indeed invited by virtue of being the subject of the thread.

    The “man” in this context is the author of any post to that thread. Thus if on a thread about say, the literary merits of Jackie Collins, I declare her to be a genius, then anyone else is perfectly entitled to declare the exact opposite, she being the “ball”, but not to defame me as a sub-literate jerk for holding that opinion because I would be the “man” playing the “jackie Collins” ball. So in the above posts Stalford, Hunter etc., are all “balls” to be played as they are part of the subject matter of the original post. Geddit?

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Pat McArt has quit the Derry Journal two – that’s two editors from the same stable in the same week.

    Something’s up!

  • jone

    Here’s what’s up:

    Johnston Press has announced the appointment of Tom Brennan as Managing Director of the Derry Journal Group.

    Jean Long, Divisional Managing Director for Northern Ireland, said: ‘I am delighted that Tom is joining us at such an exciting time in the development of the business. He has spent the past 10 years working in the newspaper industry in Ireland and is currently chief executive of the Newry and Down Democrat. The Derry Journal titles are among the most respected in the country and I have no doubt Tom will make a major contribution to the growth of the papers in the months and years ahead. He will join us on Monday 8th May 2006.’

    Johnston Press acquired Morton Newspapers Ltd in August last year and Local Press Ltd in November. Two senior editors Pat McArt, Group Editor of Derry Journal Newspapers, and Austin Hunter, Editor of the News Letter have decided to step down from their current positions.

    Paying tributes to the outgoing editors, Jean Long said: I have worked with Austin for the past two years and with Pat for much longer. They are two of the most respected journalists in the business.”

    She continued: “Pat has spent 33 years in the industry and almost 25 of those years as editor of the Derry Journal. This makes him one of the longest serving editors in the country. During that time he has made an outstanding contribution to the development of the titles. Pat took up his post at the tender age of 28.”

    Austin Hunter was appointed editor of the News Letter in April 2004. At the end of 2005 the News Letter celebrated its best circulation in 8 years.

    Austin commented: it is with sadness that I leave the company but feel the time is now right to take life easier. When I am asked in my retirement what I did during my career I will always proudly say I was editor of the News Letter.

    Wishing both long and happy years ahead Jean Long confirmed that the company would now be seeking to recruit top quality journalists to fill these positions.

    She said: “Johnston Press will be investing heavily in these businesses and I think there are exciting times ahead. We are, as always, interested in getting the best people into the company.’

  • Mark

    The News Letter should not be trying to get Garland away from the Irish News, they should be following the Irish News and publishing the occasional view from the other side.

  • Mick Fealty


    It’s gone now. I’ve not looked at this thread this morning. If you have a complaint please let me know by email and I can deal with it directly. These comments are not pre-moderated,

  • Loyalist


    Garland may indeed be a Protestant and a very small u unionist, but he hardly says anything that offends the sensitivities of the readers of the Irish News.

  • John East Belfast

    The News Letter needs to change to an evening daily and put itself up in direct competition to the Belfast Telegraph.

    I rarely buy the latter now myself due to its poor quality (in my opinion), but with its monopoly position for Job adverts etc it is reaping huge and outrageous profits.

    There is clearly room for another evening paper to share in this market, expand it further and drive up choice and quality.

    There is no long term sustainable market for the News Letter trying to compete with the morning tabloids.

    They should take on the Telegraph instead – until they take a risk like that it doesnt matter who the editor is as it is going nowhere

  • Jim Murdock

    When Austin Hunter became Editor-in Chief of The Newsletter two years ago it was like a refreshing wind blowing across Ulster.Hitherto for decades this paper was simply a propaganda vehicle for the NIO and latterly for David Trimble’s office and the so called “Good Friday Agreement”
    Mr. Hunter totally transformed this media mess.In a very short time from he took over the days of dis-information were gone.We were now given the news factually and without bias! and shody political journalism was a thing of the past.
    From Austin’s emergence, readers were given Hope, and the circulation of the paper increased.
    Are now back to the days of O,Neill when the great, the good and ther chattering classes had a censored media.