The Northern Echo has made another two key appointments as Group Editor Karl Holbrook prepares for one of the most significant periods of growth in the title’s 151-year history.

From June 21, Mike Hughes will become the Echo’s first Business & Commercial Editor, as the arrival in Darlington of teams from the Treasury and the Department for International Trade heralds a new era of growth and investment in the North-East.

Mike has more than 40 years of experience at all levels of regional journalism and is currently Reach’s Commercial Audience Editor for the North-East and Yorkshire.

From early May, Matthew Jones is also joining the Echo from the BBC in a new Digital Sports Journalist role. Matthew, who currently covers Middlesbrough and Hartlepool for BBC Radio Tees, will bring vital audio and visual experience to the team at a time of rapid digital growth for the Echo.

The two new appointments are the latest in a raft of ambitious changes at the historic title, which is also recruiting a Senior Print Content Editor and its first Engagement and Subscriptions Editor.

The appointments follow the promotion of Hannah Chapman, who took on a full-time role as Weeklies Editor overseeing the Darlington & Stockton Times, Northern Farmer and Durham Advertiser titles earlier in April. Hannah, previously Editor of the Echo, took on a part-time role as D&S Times editor last year.

The Northern Echo: Hannah Chapman, Mike Hughes and Matthew Jones

Group Editor Karl says even more roles will be advertised in the coming days as the Echo looks to cement its position as the ‘premier news brand of the North.’

“It’s a really exciting time for the Echo and the North-East generally – and I’m delighted to announce these key appointments today,” he said.

“Both Mike and Matthew bring with them incredible skill and passion, which I have no doubt will help us cement our position as the premier news brand of the North.

“We’ve been a vocal mouthpiece for businesses in Darlington and across the Tees Valley for more than 150 years. To keep working with them and giving them the sort of support, coverage and insight they deserve we need to bring in people with the level of experience, management skills and delivery that Mike has been known for wherever he has worked. There aren’t many journalists around with his understanding of the business and commercial aspects of media so we’re really looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the Echo as we lead the conversations around the Levelling Up agenda.

The Northern Echo:

“Likewise, our sport coverage must change with the times and Matthew’s appointment from the BBC will bring with it a new impetus and the sort of audio and visual skills that will open up exciting new opportunities for us. I can’t wait to see what he will bring to the role.

“They will both be joining at an exciting time for us as we lift the lid on our ambitious growth plans.

“Hannah has done some fabulous work editing the D&S Times, which now has some of the best circulation figures in Newsquest and is beginning to show strong digital growth too. I can’t wait to see her influence on the Durham Advertiser series.

“In the past few months, our whole operation has undergone a significant transformation and the sky is the limit for what we can achieve next.”


Darlington-based Mike Hughes said he can’t wait to get started at an important time for his town.

“I’m hugely looking forward to working with Karl and Sales Director Ryan Fenwick and his team at such an amazing time,” he said. “Innovation and ingenuity have always been at the heart of this town and the next few years will redefine it again as a powerhouse of investment, skills and jobs.

“I live a short walk from the town centre, so knowing I can help build something very special here was a unique opportunity I just couldn’t turn down.”

Yarm-raised Matthew Jones, known as Matty, has been working as part of BBC Tees’ sport team for the last seven years.

He said: “Through working at BBC Radio Tees, I always watched the Echo’s sport journalists from afar. I was always blown away by the standard of reporting. To be offered this role is a wonderful opportunity but I know I’ve got big shoes to fill!

“Swapping a microphone for a dictaphone will bring some new challenges but I can’t wait to get started working alongside a brilliant sport journalist in Scott Wilson and be a small part of such a historic and prestigious newspaper.”

Echo Sports Editor Scott Wilson said: “It’s hugely exciting to be welcoming Matty on board as part of the sports team. He’s a North-East journalist who is passionate about North-East sport, and I’m sure he’ll be an excellent addition.

“Thanks to his extensive experience with BBC Tees, he will bring a range of skills that will enable us to improve and expand our digital operation, with a particular focus on new audio, video and podcast developments. This is an area that we’re really looking to grow, and Matty will be a core part of that.”

Hannah Chapman said she was “thrilled” to be expanding her role at the helm of the D&S Times and Northern Farmer to encompass the Advertiser Series.

She said: “Keeping communities informed of what is happening on their doorstep has never been more important, and along with our reporting team, we’ll be working hard to tell as many important stories from Durham, Consett, Stanley and Chester-le-Street as we can.”