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Tributes to daily editor who won OBE for services to newspapers

Cliff SmithA regional daily editor awarded the OBE for services to the newspaper industry has died aged 81.

Tributes have been paid to Cliff Smith, left, who was editor and director of the Lincolnshire for 10 years between 1987 and 1997.

Under his leadership, the Echo campaigned to get the A46 dualled between Lincoln and Newark and raised more than £5m for good causes.

Cliff was given the OBE in the 1997 New Year Honours for services to the people of Lincolnshire and the newspaper industry during a career that spanned almost five decades.

Born in the Cotswolds, he worked in Gloucester and Bristol and was also an award-winning documentary film maker before moving to Lincolnshire.

He was appointed news editor of the Echo in 1980 and was promoted to assistant editor in 1985 before further promotion to editor and director of the Lincolnshire Publishing Co Ltd.

Ted Skaith, managing director from 1984 to 1998, told Lincolnshire Live: “Cliff was not a young man when he was appointed editor but he had big ambitions for the Echo.

“He was involved with everything and everyone. When he was news editor, the editor would send him to whatever was happening in Lincoln, so he knew a lot of people.

“The editor Neil Fowler got moved and they were going to put a young man in from London. I instigated a job interview for Cliff but I wanted reassurance that he would be taken seriously and at least given a chance.

“I told Cliff to go to London and thump the desk of Ian Park, the chairman of Northcliffe, and that’s what he did.”

Cliff was at the helm when the Echo celebrated its centenary in 1993 and also oversaw the transition from a broadsheet to a tabloid-sized paper.

Former Echo business editor Glynis Fox said: “I was sad to hear that Cliff had passed away, because he was the person who gave me my break into journalism.

“I had formerly worked for the Lincolnshire Echo as editor’s secretary, then moved on. I clearly remember Cliff’s ‘out of the blue phone call’ inviting me in for a chat, unaware why he wanted to see me.

“On arrival in his office I even jokingly asked if he was looking for a tea lady. But I came away with a much better offer, the chance to jump into journalism and ‘sink or swim’.

“I went on to cover all aspects of the job, gained my national qualification and was promoted to business editor along the way. It turned out to be a fantastic, life-changing move. I will always be grateful to Cliff for that opportunity.”

Chris Hutchings, now a public relations officer at Newark & Sherwood District Council, joined the Echo as a trainee reporter in 1988 and rose through the ranks to become a sub-editor.

He said: “He gave me and a lot of young people our first steps into journalism. He was an Echo man through and through and he was well-respected in the business community.”

Cliff died on 2 September after a period of illness and funeral arrangements are to be confirmed.

3 comments

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  • September 11, 2017 at 8:23 am
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    Cliff was a lovely bloke and a proper newsman. I was a pleasure to work with him and all his Northcliffe colleagues were all delighted when he finally got the top job.

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  • September 11, 2017 at 9:18 am
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    Cliff guided the newsroom with great commitment and calm. He helped the younger journalists a great deal and with us – older ones – he was always prepared to take on board what we had to say. It was a pleasure to work with him at the Lincolnshire Echo. That great Newsroom in the Sky has taken on a new recruit – one of the best.

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  • September 11, 2017 at 10:08 am
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    Cliff was my first regional daily newspaper news editor … happy memories of The Lincolnshire Echo. RIP.

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