1 February 2015

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Award-winning Midlands business journalist dies

An award-winning former journalist who joined a regional daily after having worked for the Daily Telegraph has died.

Jim O’Brien, left, worked on the business desk of the Birmingham Post as manufacturing editor of the then morning daily title before leaving in 2004 to run his own PR consultancy.

Prior to joining the Post he had been Midlands correspondent of the Daily Telegraph having previously worked in a number of roles on the national daily both at home and abroad.

Jim died at his Worcestershire home on Monday.  He was 73.

A former Midland Business Journalist of the Year, Jim started his career on a weekly newspaper at Shipley in West Yorkshire.

He later joined the Sheffield Telegraph before going on to The Daily Telegraph in Manchester.

Jim, who served for many years as a Newspaper Press Fund committee member, also worked in London and abroad for the Telegraph before becoming the newspaper’s staffer in the Midlands.

He set up his own enterprise, Business in Writing and PR, in October 2004 and continued to write columns for the Birmingham Mail and Chamberlink, the magazine of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.

Former Birmingham Post business editor John Duckers said: “Jim had a great work ethic and a distinguished career. He had a Northern sense of humour, which was as thick as gravy.

“He had a wonderful shorthand note and was a stickler for accuracy. One of the last of the old school journalists who told it straight and heartily disliked ‘jazzing the story up’. He had a wealth of tales, a sparkle in his eye, a wide variety of interests and hidden depths. My commiserations go to his family.”

Jim’s funeral will take place at Harvington Hall RC Church, near Kidderminster, on 20 December at 1pm.

He leaves a wife, Joan, a daughter, Charlotte, and a son, James,  who followed him into newspaper journalism before becoming a radio presenter.


  1. James O'Brien (junior), London

    That’s a lovely piece about my dad. Thank you.

  2. Donna

    So sorry for your loss. We heard a lot about your Father on your radio programme – sounded like a real Gentleman – You are a credit to him!

  3. Darren Ingram, Finland

    I share the comment by James O’ Brien (Junior) and pass my commiserations on to his family.

    I did smile at this quote though. A perfect quote.

    “He had a Northern sense of humour, which was as thick as gravy.”

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  4. Jonny Vantastic, Dulwich

    Very sad news. Big love to you & your family

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  5. matthew fearon, watford

    So sorry James for your loss heard a great deal about your father on the show,he sounds like a remarkable man and wonderful father.

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  6. Campbell Docherty

    I worked as a young journalist with Jim between 2000 and 2004 at the Birmingham Post and count myself lucky to have done so and to have been able to call him a friend. A journalist I admired and a warm, witty gentleman I had a great respect for.
    My heartfelt condolences to Jim’s family.

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  7. Jean Black, Cheam, Surrey

    So sorry to hear about your father. Condolences to you and your family.

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  8. Kevin Anderson, London SE3

    From what you have told us James, your Dad sounded like a wonderful man, and I am sure he will be sorely missed. May he Rest in Peace.

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  9. les Petchey, Romford

    Sorry to hear of your loss, you spoke of him often on your show and was obviously proud of him. Take care.

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  10. Jen, London

    So sorry for your loss, James. What a lovely article.
    My family live in Hagley, Worcs. Harvington Hall is one of my favourite places. Will think of you all on the 20th.
    I am a long time LBC James O B listener!

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  11. Graham Snowdon, Sheffrield

    Jim also worked as a general news reporter on the South Yorkshire edition of the old Yorkshire Evening News at Doncaster. We were colleagues in around 1961-63.

    Jim, who was quite a heavy smoker at the time, decided one evening after we had had a few drinks that he would try and get fit and joined me early the next morning for a run round the Town Fields. He was off work with some kind of bronchial problem for quite a few days after that.

    I last saw Jim in November 1993 when the late Dennis Casson organised an extremely well attended ‘do’ to mark the 30th anniversary of the Evening News closure.

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  12. marigold211, surrey

    Thoughts and prayers sent to you all, feel we knew him a little x

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  13. mick potts, crawley

    You were so obviously inspired by your father. You spoke so beautifuly about him on your show. I am so sorry for your loss.

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  14. Canny Street Kid, Sheffield

    I first knew Jim back in 1963 when we worked together on the old Sheffield Telegraph, and in those days he was very helpful to me. He was, too, something of a “character” in that he had a ready wit and a sharp sense of humour, and people enjoyed his company. Jim, who was a very talented journalist, will get a mention on the Sheffield Morning Telegraph page on Facebook to ensure that as many of his old Sheffield colleagues who are still around will learn the sad news. Condolences to Joan and to James Jnr.

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  15. sarah crampton, st Albans Hertfordshire

    Dear James and family
    I’m shocked by the news of your fathers death. You feel as if you are part of my family listening to you everyday. Also you talk with so much passion about your family and always talking about mum and dad. My deepest sympathys to yourself and your family god bless you all. X Sarah xx

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  16. Mark Langford, Birmingham

    I worked with Jim at the Birmingham Post and Mail and served with him on the NPF West Midlands committee. He was a smashing guy with a great sense of humour. He’ll be missed. Best wishes to his family.

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  17. Sarah Mahoney, Woodford Green, Essex

    Love and condolences for your loss James. The fondness of your father has always been very evident with your stories etc on your radio show. All good wishes to all your family xxx

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  18. Louisa Richards, Rochester, Kent

    James thinking of you and yours. We all feel like we knew him through you and how proud you were of each other. Try not remember this bit, remember the good, Plain Omelette springs to mind. Much love Xxx

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  19. Chris Miller, Dudley

    Jim was a great asset to any gathering, be it bussiness or social, he always had a respected view and witty comment. I am so glad i was able to spend time with him in the week before he died. His friends in the CCC will miss him, but the memories of the good times we spent together will never fade. Love to Joan, James and Charlotte.

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  20. Paul Stokes, Yorkshire

    Jim was indeed a gent and journalist of the old school. He was a respected colleague at The Daily Telegraph. His attention to detail was as consistent as his good humour. A sad loss. Condolences to his family.

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  21. soorpuss, Mitcham, Surrey

    Sorry to hear about your dad James. May he rest in peace, my heart goes out to you, your mum sister and the rest of the family. That was a lovely tribute to him. From an avid listener of your show, for years. Sue

  22. Chris Evans, Bromley

    Oh my dear James I was listening to your wonderful show, which I caught as you we’re dealing with such compassion with a poor lady at about 12:35. You alluded to something, I checked your tweets and saw this terrible news. I’m so sorry for you and your family, and full of admiration and respect for the way you were so professional at a time of such loss for you. Your Dad is I’m sure looking at you from heaven with a wry grin of northern pride. Little said, but volumes communicated. God bless you. Chris and Carol Evans and mour whole family, who all listen to you.

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  23. David Vernon, Bexleyheath

    Sorry for your loss. He would have been very proud to hear you deal so intelligently and professionally with that poignant call you took today.

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  24. Chris Youett, Esq,, Coventry

    It was always a pleasure to go to a Press Conference with Jim as he was a consumate professional who was unafraid to ask tough questions and politely put business leaders on the spot. He was always happy to give advice to younger journalists.

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  25. Wayne Richardson, Middlesex

    So sorry to hear of your sad news. Condolences to you and your family. You spoke so highly and fondly of your father he must be so proud of the way you have turned out – most of the time. No time is a good time especially at this time of year (first anniversary with my mum passing away on the 23rd December 2011 – Hope you don’t mind me mentioning that). Like your dad I’m also a stickler for accuracy and would have welcomed his constuctive criticism improving me as a person. The anecdotes you told about your father brought back fond memories of my childhood. I wish you peace and happiness for the future.

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  26. Rob Perkins, Bristol

    Really sad to hear of Jim’s death. As the Daily Telegraph man in the Midlands he took me under his wing as a young national newspaper reporter on TODAY in the early 1990s.
    Cups of tea and Olympic breakfasts at the Little Chef on the outskirts of Nottingham en route to court cases in the city were made all the more cheerful with Jim always decrying the fact that all thes places use teabags rather than loose leaf tea.
    His shorthand note was always so good it was always best to check a judge’s summing up with him otherwise he’d be on the phone the next day telling me I’d got it slightly wrong and it’s best not to upset the Lords fo the Red Robe.
    A true gent.

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