Mark Casci, the business editor of The Yorkshire Post and recent UKIB speaker, gives JLife the inside scoop on life in a busy newsroom.
Born in Falkirk, Scotland but having spent the vast majority of his life living and working in Yorkshire, Mark Casci’s passion for the region is apparent as he outlines his journey to becoming business editor of The Yorkshire Post (YP).
Straight off the bat, Mark divulges a famous fact about his hometown of Redcar, which he says houses the world’s oldest surviving lifeboat. It was from this seaside settlement, nestled on the North Yorkshire border, that Mark first ventured to begin his path into journalism, a vocation he says is “never a boring job…I genuinely do get up on a morning and I can’t wait to get into work. What is most exciting is getting the big exclusives, sometimes after weeks or maybe even months of work, but equally the big breaking news where you suddenly find yourself in the midst of history.”
After studying history at the University of Leeds, followed by achieving a postgraduate diploma in journalism, Mark embarked upon a career that would see him report from many of Yorkshire’s cultural and business hubs, as well as across the globe. “I’ve been to China, Hong Kong, Croatia and Ireland a few times” he says, “so I’ve had a good career so far. I’ve met every prime minister since Gordon Brown, [David] Cameron several times and I have interviewed George Osborne.”
After rising through the ranks at his first posting, Bradford’s The Telegraph & Argus, Mark was promoted to the position of the paper’s business editor aged just 26, before a stint as the news editor at The Press in York. It wasn’t long before opportunity knocked in the form of The Yorkshire Post, a heavyweight publication at which he had “always wanted to work.”
From rural affairs correspondent to business editor in less than a decade, Mark recalls: “I’ve had four roles at the YP since I joined in 2008. I’ve overseen a couple of general elections and the Grand Depart of the Tour de France, the referendum in Scotland, leaving the European Union, Hillsborough inquests and a whole host of big, breaking events in the region.”
The University of Leeds alumnus is privy to the inner workings of the business sphere in the city and points out that he gets to “see the responsible side of business, which I don’t think gets enough press really. There are big corporations in Leeds that go into schools with low attainment…and it gives them the chance to find out what it’s like to work at a big accountancy firm.”
When quizzed on the stories that have stayed with him during his career, Mark mentions the murder of police officer Sharon Beshenivsky in Bradford in 2005, which brought about his first brush with national and international media. However, the now editor speaks mainly of stories that have enabled him to make an impact in local communities: “Much of journalism is the red-top pursuit of tearing people down. But to actually do something which improves things – there aren’t many people that get to do that in their job. It’s a bit of an honour and privilege.”
Mark in particular describes coverage of the Hillsborough inquests, in relation to the 96 fatalities at the Sheffield football stadium in 1989 and subsequent campaigns for justice, as “one of the most satisfying [stories] that we’ve done.”
He adds: “My colleague at the time, Rob Parsons worked on a story under my management showing the links between how Hillsborough was handled and how the Battle of Orgreave, where miners were essentially attacked by police, was handled. That made national and international news.”
While, he also notes how his reporting helped “[make] it possible for cheese from parts of Yorkshire to be only called, for example, Wensleydale cheese, across the world. It’s called protected designation of origin status.”
Mark is certainly no stranger to being propelled into the limelight himself, either. In 2015, his front page comment on the Leeds floods garnered widespread attention, earning a mention in The New York Times and on The Today Show: “The areas that got flooded I used to live in. There was this visceral, emotional response from myself and I was quite upset about it. I got in touch with the duty editor [at the YP] and said we should do a front page comment saying that it’s not good enough for a city the size of Leeds to have such poor flood defences, [that] this wouldn’t happen in the capital. It piled a lot of pressure on central government to put their hands in their pockets and invest.”
Speaking of Leeds, Mark also recalls how the city has changed since he first arrived as a fresher: “It was a great city then, don’t get me wrong, it was very much an up and coming, vibrant city. Things were good already but they have got better. There is a huge amount of pride and passion in the city, a huge will to push it forward as an economy.
“I think [winning] the European Capital of Culture bid for 2023…would be brilliant for the city and also richly deserved,” Mark adds. “This is the city that gave the world Alan Bennett, a renowned football team and so many famous actors.” With such huge momentum and development in Leeds and Yorkshire at the moment, Mark will surely be kept on his toes in the newsroom for some time to come.
To read Mark’s work online, visit Yorkshirepost.co.uk.