“Changing times” means Anton’s column is no more

An East Midlands journalist says his award-winning newspaper column has been axed because his print piece wouldn’t get enough clicks online.

Anton Rippon (pictured) first worked for the Derby Telegraph in 1965 and has written a column for the paper since 1999. Now he has revealed that last Wednesday’s column was his last for the paper, claiming he was told his success “is now judged purely on website page views not print sales.”

Anton, who was named Newspaper Columnist of the Year in 2017 at the Birmingham Press Club-organised Midlands Media Awards, has written more than 1,000 weekly columns for the Telegraph since 1999, and has also produced a weekly Derby County FC piece and supplied sport and general news features to the paper over the past 10 years.

Until this week he also produced the paper’s weekly eight-page nostalgia supplement with his author daughter Nicola.

Anton told the Sports Journalists’ Association: “I’ve been told that success is now judged purely on website page views not print sales. “My column might be popular with newspaper readers, but it’s thought that if it went online it wouldn’t get enough clicks.

“So my contract has ended. It is a most amicable parting, though. Times change. Life moves on.”

Anton worked as a reporter for what was then the Derby Evening Telegraph and as a feature writer for the Nottingham Evening Post before going freelance in 1981.

He covered the Midlands and South Yorkshire football beats for the Sunday Telegraph, wrote for The TimesThe Independent and The Guardian, and worked for BBC local radio before launching Breedon Books in 1984.

Anton added: “I have a great affection for the Derby paper which I first joined in 1965. It’s been a privilege to work with so many talented journalists, in particular the current sports department.

“On top of the Derby Telegraph and Burton Mail sport pages, I’m told they are taking on more responsibility for Nottingham Post sport pages with Leicester Mercury sport pages further down the line. They are one of the best regional sports teams in the country.

“I started in the days of manual typewriters and scrounging a telephone, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. There are now different ways of delivering news, but print editions giving readers good local content and building up trust with them could still prosper given a chance.

“A few years ago I saw a cartoon where a youngster is asking an old journalist: ‘You mean you used to take what was on your website and print it on paper?’ It was funny then, but, regionally at least, print is now becoming a neglected afterthought.

“The other day I was telling a young reporter that we called the stop-press the ‘fudge’. He said: ‘Sorry, what was the stop-press?’ So maybe it’s time for me to go. I’m not retiring, though. I’ve signed contracts for four books for a major publisher over the next three years.”