Tributes have been paid to a ‘highly-regarded’ former editor who died on Saturday at the age of 69 after a three-year battle with cancer.
Keith Parker, left, was the editor of Wolverhampton’s Express and Star for 17 years, helping it become Britain’s biggest-selling regional newspaper.
He earned numerous accolades during his 48 years in journalism, including being made an OBE in 1993, and he also spent time on many newspaper bodies, including the Press Complaints Commission and the Newspaper Society.
He entered newspapers in 1957 as a 16-year-old trainee reporter on the Wellington Journal and Shrewsbury News before moving to the Express and Star and Shropshire Star in reporting roles.
Keith became editor of the Shropshire Star for five years before he moved on to lead the Express and Star for 17 years.
After 23 years as an editor, he went on to become a managing director, initially at the Shropshire Star in 1995 then at the Express and Star until his retirement in 2005.
His friend Geoff Elliott, a former editor of the Coventry Evening Telegraph, said: “Though he spent virtually all his career with the same company, the privately-owned Midland News Association, Keith was well-known and highly-regarded throughout journalism.
“He was a larger-than-life character, with boundless energy and great commitment to all he held dear. Many will fondly remember him, having been a victim of his caustic wit.”
Keith helped to draft the Editor’s Code of Practice and spent a long time as president of the Guild of Editors, the forerunning of today’s Society of Editors.
Bob Satchwell, executive director of the society, said: “Keith was a giant of the regional newspaper industry. He led the campaigning work of the Guild of Editors as chairman of its parliamentary and legal committee and as president.
“He will be remembered by many editors and journalists for his uncompromising attitude to press freedom, ready wit and good humour.”
Keith also served on the Newspaper Society’s government and legal affairs committee from 1997-2005, and ended his career as chairman of the Newspaper Qualifications Council.
David Newell, director of the Newspaper Society, said: “Keith Parker was, quite simply, one of the greatest editors of his generation and a superb ambassador for the whole of the regional and local newspaper industry.
“He was a man of modesty and was very down-to-earth. But he had a serious side and he was a great campaigner for press freedom.”
Until his death, Keith continued to live in Wolverhampton with his wife Bobbie. He also leaves his son Nick, a partner at a law firm in Cardiff.
David Scott (02/08/2010 14:38:18)
A sad start to the week. Keith was a gentleman who stood up for old fashioned values. He always had a sensible approach to any problem and a ready helping hand. He was a ‘content’ man through and through.
John Griffith (02/08/2010 15:48:38)
Very sad news. Keith was a great inspiration to me and many others both in Shropshire as a very forward thinking Editor and as a leading industry figure. He was great fun too and will be missed by all who worked with him and for him.
Donald Fullarton (03/08/2010 10:32:08)
A great guy and a great loss, Keith, while the editor and later MD of a major regional daily, always found time for editors of much smaller publications and the industry as a whole. He was an inspirational figure to his colleagues.
Aidan Goldstraw (03/08/2010 11:24:00)
Keith gave me my start on the E&S and was undeniably the most talented of the three editors I served under there. He was always a fair and friendly boss.
ajinexile (03/08/2010 11:42:38)
Alas, Ex Sub, your comment sums up the industry at large today. I’m glad I’ve ‘gone fishin’ And Keith: RIP.
Zoe Day (03/08/2010 13:48:31)
I worked in Advertising at bothe the Express and Star and Shropshire Star, but did work with Keith when we launched Telford FM in 1999 and he was Vice-Chairman on the Board. He was always very supportive, enthusiastic and had a great sense of fun. This is very sad news.
Geoff Wright (03/08/2010 15:52:56)
I worked for Keith during the whole of his time as Editor at the Express & Star, as photographer and Picture Desk man. They were always exciting times especially for photographers as Keith always used pictures well.He will be sadly missed.
Derek Tucker (03/08/2010 16:22:27)
A brilliant editor who was tough but great fun to work with. Keith was totally committed to news, and the success of the Express and Star in the 70s, 80s and 90s was due in no small part to his influence.
Simon Archer (04/08/2010 11:46:19)
Another stalwart of the industry has gone and with him, a wealth of knowledge. A very well respected figure at MNA and a decent honest man. RIP Keith.
Colin Osborne (04/08/2010 16:22:00)
Keith Parker gave me invaluable support during my early years at the Hereford-Ross-Leominster Journals. He had vision and leadership, and a sense of humour not readily found in newsrooms these days. I was very sad to hear of his passing.
steve pain (05/08/2010 09:08:42)
Keith was a one-off. He instilled strong discipline in his staff while making work fun. Working for him was a real privilege. He will be sadly missed.
Tony Bishop (05/08/2010 16:42:24)
Keith had the foresight to send me to Afghanistan after the Russians invaded in 1980. No insurance, no IEDs but I was always grateful for an unforgettable experience made possible by his forward thinking on a progessive provincial evening newspaper.
Peter Saunders (06/08/2010 09:24:55)
Despite the bitter rivalry between Wolverhampton and Birmingham, Keith was always a good friend and kind and witty companion when I was editing The Birmingham Post. He will be sorely missed.
Paul Skipp (17/08/2010 12:16:44)
Keith was a giant of regional journalism and a pleasure to work with. He produced great newspapers and helped develop many excellent journalists. RIP Keith.