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Tributes to editor who took title to the top

A former editor whose paper spent three weeks off the presses during the 1980s has died.

John Downing, 76, joined what is now Archant Norfolk in 1957 after spells with the Derbyshire Advertiser and the Express and Star.

At the time the then Norfolk News Company was paying the wages at Norwich City FC to prevent the club from going bust while it raised £20,000 to stay afloat.

Initially a reporter based in Norwich, John also worked in the King’s Lynn office before becoming chief reporter back in Norwich in 1968 and a year later assistant news editor.

John undertook other roles on the newsdesk and was appointed editor of the Eastern Daily Press in 1979.

During his six-year editorship, the EDP spent three weeks off the presses in May 1980 during a printers’ strike but also became the country’s biggest-selling regional daily.

Official audited figures showed it averaged daily sales of 90,179.

In autumn 1985 he stepped up to be managing editor of the company’s Norfolk titles before retiring in 1991.

EDP editor Peter Franzen said: “John possessed a warm character that made him easy to talk to – a big asset for a journalist.

“As editor of the EDP he had a great contacts book and was at the helm during the newspaper’s golden years when it sold in excess of 90,000 copies daily.

“Even in retirement he maintained his interest in the news, and especially the EDP.

“In latter years when we met up, John and Jennie would relate their latest globe-trotting adventures, but they also wanted to know of any new developments at the EDP.”

During a holiday in South Africa last month John fell ill and died on Sunday at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

He is survived by his widow Jennie, two children Claire and Mark and three grandchildren.

The EDP website is carrying a full obit and an interview with John upon his retirement in 1991.

You can leave your memories of John on Lasting Tribute.

  • The funeral is being held at Earlham Crematorium, Norwich, at 3pm on 8 April.
  • Comments

    Peter Jeffery (01/04/2009 11:12:20)
    Back in the 70s I had the pleasure of working alongside John on the EDP, as one of its subs. As current editor Peter Franzen says, he was a nice man, easy to get along with, an honest journalist, and the rising sales made me rather pleased to be working on the top regional morning paper. That the EDP reached those heights is a tribute to John’s talents and his ability to get his staff to always give that little bit extra that makes the difference.