Alison Phillips, Editor at the Daily Mirror; Martin  Breen, Deputy Editor-in-Chief at the Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life, and Ian Brunskill, Assistant Editor at The Times.  Pictured above is Kamal Ahmed, formerly of the Lennox Herald, the Sunday Telegraph and the BBC.

By Lucy Ashton

Martin Breen has been elected as President of the Society of Editors in the UK with former Dumbarton-based journalist Kamal Ahmed being returned as Vice President of the Society.

Breen, Deputy Editor-in-Chief at the Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life, said: “Five years after joining the Society of Editors board, it truly is an honour to be now taking over as president.”

Ahmed, who worked at the Lennox Herald in Dumbarton High Street – one of a number of prominent journalists who learned their trade under The Democrat editor Bill Heaney – commented: “I want to say thank you to the Society for electing me as Vice President.

“The Society’s role as the supporter of freedom of speech, powerful journalism and diverse and inclusive newsrooms is vital. I am very much looking forward to supporting Martin, Ian, Dawn and the whole society as we work together to deliver for all journalists across the UK.”

Bill Heaney said: “I am delighted for Kamal. He has had a tremendous career so far in Edinburgh, Fleet Street and at the BBC, and he will speak up for journalists across the country who feel the rights to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press are being steadily eroded by extreme right wing politicians and the likes of West Dunbartonshire Council and the SNP locally, who have banned and boycotted our digital news platform here.

“We will be asking  Kamal Ahmed to be our advocate in the fight for press freedom and democracy in West Dunbartonshire.”

Martin Breen said: “As the newly-elected president of the Society, I can’t wait to engage with our members throughout the UK, to listen to them and see how we can help. We are a campaigning group, with a core purpose of protecting freedom of speech and expression.

“The support of high journalistic standards within our industry is more important than ever in the delivery of quality, trustworthy journalism.

“Key to this success is a properly diverse and inclusive media, and in 2022 I and the Society will persist with actively encouraging diversity and inclusion, at all levels, in the media across the UK.”

“During the year ahead, I hope to grow our membership and ensure the Society interacts with more interested parties than ever before.

“I would like to pay tribute to Alison Gow for her sterling work for the Society over the past two years and am determined to be as strong a voice for our members as she has been.”

Breen takes over from Alison Gow, Audience and Content Director at Reach Plc northwest, which owns the Dumbarton Lennox Herald plus the Daily Record and Sunday Mail and a multitude of other publications, local and national.

Alison, who has been the Society president since 2019, will remain on the Society of Editors board of directors.

At the Society’s Annual General Meeting, held on Wednesday, Kamal Ahmed, who is currently Editor-in-Chief and Co-founder of The News Movement, was unanimously elected as Vice President.

Joining the board are Alison Phillips, Editor at the Daily Mirror and Ian Brunskill, Assistant Editor at The Times. 

SoE Executive Director Dawn Alford said: “Martin takes over as President at an exciting time for the Society. We are soon to launch our diversity and inclusion hub and have many ambitious plans for the coming year – including our first in-person conference since the start of the pandemic plus some fresh new events and valuable working groups.”

Chairman Ian MacGregor said: “The future of the Society of Editors has never been more important. The value of a strong, cross-industry body fighting to protect media freedom and maintain high journalistic standards cannot be under-estimated.

“Having senior representatives from national and local news organisations united in the battle to support properly-edited journalism is something that is truly invaluable in our democracy.”

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