Each week HTFP asks a leading regional press figure five set questions about their career – including how it started, their best story or headline, and which other journalists and publications they most admire.
If you would like to take part in the series, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
What was your first job in journalism?
Trainee reporter, Leicester Mercury, preceded by very occasional submissions to Ripple, the newspaper of Leicester University Students Union, and two letters in the Southend Standard when I was 10 years old.
Who or what inspired you to go into journalism?
I’d no idea at graduation, but a university friend had found herself a job on a small rural weekly – so it seemed like a good route to follow, especially as I had worked out that I wasn’t much suited to anything else – and I liked gossip.
What would you rate as your best story, headline or picture?
A headline one Saturday when I was duty editor on the Lincolnshire Echo – “Lincoln dentist’s sex in surgery”. Arguably the perfect headline (and bill) for a regional daily, it doubled street sales that day. The Echo classified manager called me in the morning. “Are you writing a story on Graham xxx (the dentist)? ” she asked. “why, what do you know about him?” I replied. “Nothing,” she said, “except that he’s gorgeous.”
Who would you rate as the best journalist you have worked either with or for?
Very many over the years and hard to choose individuals, but – editor Alex Leys, for helping to breathe new life in to the regional industry in the 1980s – and writer Carolyn Hitt, on The Western Mail, a brilliant read every time in news, sport and as a columnist – and who always made deadline!
Apart from your own title, which other newspapers do you most admire?
Express and Star, Wolverhampton, for sticking with it.
- Neil Fowler edited the Lincolnshire Echo, the Derby Evening Telegraph, The Journal, Newcastle, and The Western Mail. He was publisher of the Toronto Sun and then edited Which? magazine. He is currently coming to the end of his year as Guardian Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford where he has been examining the decline and future of provincial newspapers in the UK.