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Former PA editor dies aged 81

A former editor of both the Press Association and Reuters has died at the age of 81, his family announced yesterday.

David Chipp was found at his home in London after apparently dying in his sleep.

He was Reuters’ first resident correspondent in Beijing after the Communist takeover and became the agency’s editor in 1968.

A year later he was appointed editor-in-chief of the Press Association, the national news agency for the UK and the Irish Republic, a post he held until his retirement in 1986.

The agency’s current executive chairman Paul Potts led the tributes, describing Chipp as “a brilliant editor, an inspirational leader and a champion of press freedom.”

“He was a great reporter with a passionate belief in the PA’s mission to be fast, fair and accurate.”

Reg Evans, who as associate editor was Chipp’s editorial deputy for most of his PA leadership, added: “Quite simply, David was greatly loved by the journalists he led with such distinction for many years.

“He brought to the PA his own wide experience with Reuters and a conviction that journalism should be fun.”

Chris Moncrieff, who joined PA in 1962 and was the agency’s legendary political editor from 1982 to 1994, paid tribute to an “agency man through and through”.

He said: “David Chipp came to the Press Association as a breath of fresh air. He enlivened the service by requiring shorter stories and brighter all-round writing so that it was no longer a very dull agency of record.

“He just wanted plain stories brightly written, quickly produced and showing no bias of any kind.

“He came down like a ton of bricks on people he thought might have strayed beyond his very strict guidelines.”

Chipp joined Reuters as a graduate trainee and was posted to Asia, where he opened the agency’s first post-war bureau in Rangoon and covered fighting in Burma and Indo-China.

As Beijing correspondent, he once accidentally trod on the toes of the Chinese dictator Mao-Tse-Tung, becoming known as “the Englishman who stepped on Chairman Mao’s toes and lived to tell the tale.”

Later as PA editor, he was celebrated for helping to keep regional papers running during a strike in 1979 when PA’s print union telegraphists said they would only transmit stories edited personally by him.

Chipp worked around the clock every day for nearly seven weeks, sub-editing the agency’s entire service of news, sports and picture captions.

Guy Black, corporate affairs director at the Telegraph Group and former director of the Press Complaints Commission, said Chipp was “an inspiration to generations of journalists.”

He said: “Though he was diminutive in stature, David was truly one of the giants of Fleet Street. A doughty defender of press freedom in Britain and the Commonwealth, he was a distinguished founding father of the Press Complaints Commission.

“He was an inspiration to generations of journalists, so many of whom – charmed by his mischievous wit and warmth – became life-long friends.

“Above all he was the reporter’s reporter – who spent a lifetime dedicated to the skills of his trade.”

  • You can leave your memories of David Chipp at Lasting Tribute


    Ivy Likes (13/09/2008 22:53:30)
    So, no friend of the NUJ then?
    Worked his socks off to help the local media barons defeat the 78/79 regional dispute.
    AND a founder of the spineless PCC…