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Kentish Gazette editor Leo Whitlock is leaving the KM Media Group

That's it. I have seen my final set of newspapers out of the door and on to the presses.

I am leaving the KM Media Group for a new challenge after almost 17 years, the last 12 as an editor.

I have loved every second of my time here.

Leo Whitlock, former editor of Canterbury's Kentish Gazette
Leo Whitlock, former editor of Canterbury's Kentish Gazette

I arrived from east London in 2000 as a sub editor, became deputy news editor, news editor and then editor of the Kentish Express in Ashford before moving to our Canterbury office to take charge of the Kentish Gazette, Whitstable Gazette, Herne Bay Gazette and the Faversham News.

In recent years, I also took on editorship of the Thanet Extra and the East Kent Mercury as well as its sister titles.

During that time the way we work has changed beyond all recognition and so have the demands on the newsroom.

This week's Kentish Gazette front page
This week's Kentish Gazette front page

The team I have the privilege to lead has never worked so hard to put together quality paid-for and free newspapers while servicing our phenomenally successful website KentOnline and the social media platforms that drive our traffic.

They also contribute to the growing success that is our kmfm radio station which has just delivered record audiences.

My reporters and news desks genuinely care about doing the best possible job and about getting it right.

And that is important when the term fake news is being bandied about and too much store is set on the information gleaned from the wild west that is social media.

Our journalists are rooted in the communities they serve.

They are determined to hold the powerful to account and to cover the courts.

They go all out to be accurate but when they get it wrong, they own up and do all they can to put it right.

That way they build the very real trust that is sometimes missing on Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Hiding away corrections has never been our style.

I am also proud to have worked for a family-owned independent company that genuinely loves the county an invests in it.

Making Kent and Medway better places to live and work in is not just a marketing slogan dreamed up by an agency.

It comes from 127 years of tradition, from employing and nuturing people who live in the county and from helping businesses that trade in Kent to increase their revenues.

There are countless examples I can point to where the KM Media Group has been a genuine force for good.

The firm's prosperity has always relied on the county's prosperity.

I leave wishing everyone at the KM Media Group well and with a huge sense of pride especially as the Kentish Gazette team prepares to celebrate its 300-year history.

I cannot thank them, our readers and advertisers enough.

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