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Mail editor to retire after a lifetime in journalism

Oxford Mail editor Jim McClure is to retire at the end of this year.

He has been in the hotseat since August 2000 and has resisted the temptation to work until his 65th birthday in October 2004.

Jim (right) took over from Pat Fleming in a move from the Oxford Times and Herald series.

He started off in journalism as a crime reporter in South Africa in 1962 before moving to Scotland on the Scottish Daily Mail.

After a tip-off the publication was to close, he picked up the phone and got a job at the Oxford Mail before moving from the Mail to the Times in 1966 where he subsequently became the youngest Westminster Press deputy editor.

He gave it all up to become a successful crime writer, publishing 14 novels, and after his literary career culminated in a full page in Time Magazine – “I’d always wanted a review in Time Magazine,” he said – he went back to the Oxford Times as a sub editor after 12 years away.

Since rejoining in 1986 Jim has edited The Oxford Times, the Herald Series, Bicester Advertiser, Witney Gazette and Oxford Star as well as the Oxford Mail. His multi-tasking over the years has taken in photography, subbing, paste-up and even drawing the paper’s cartoon.

Jim plans to spend his retirement writing and painting – he’s a dab hand in acrylics and oil.

But he said: “I have another novel in me, and I’ll be bringing the subject matter to cover England rather than South Africa this time.

“I’d like to write about a real detective in a real situation – someone who really enjoys doing his job.”

When he took on the post of editor at the Mail he said the task in hand was to make it “a real ‘Oxford’ paper”, in the same focused tradition that brought awards and recognition to his previous papers.

He told Holdthefrontpage: “We have put the Oxford back into the Mail.

“Whenever it was sensible to lead on Oxford on the front and continue for three, four or five pages inside and then focus on it throughout, that’s what we have done.”

Shamus Donald, managing director of the Oxford business, said: “Everyone who knows Jim will understand the extraordinary qualities he has brought to our business. On behalf of all his colleagues I wish him a long and happy retirement.”

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