Each week HTFP asks a leading regional press figure five set questions about their career – including how it started, their best story or headline, and which other journalists and publications they most admire.
What was your first job in journalism?
Junior reporter at the Melton Times in Melton Mowbray, Leics. Age 17 and fairly naive
Who or what inspired you to go into journalism?
The chap I was going out with was a reporter on the Melton Times. He got the push on a Friday for missing a parish council meeting, and telephoned to tell me. I called the editor, got an interview that afternoon and started the following Monday. Finished with the boyfriend on the Saturday by the way. Had intended being a primary school teacher and had also been offered a commission in the WRAF.
What would you rate as your best story, headline or picture?
Best story was the most memorable for me: the lorry driver who had tapped with his watch on the hull of the upturned Herald of Free Enterprise and became one of the last to be rescued. He shook all through the interview and I couldn’t take notes as he was so shaken up. I saw him two days after his rescue and cried with him as he told his story.
Actually, have often cried with the people I’ve interviews when it’s been an emotional subject. Nothing wrong with that, it shows you’re a human being.
Who would you rate as the best journalist you have worked either with or for?
I have two: both played key roles in separate ways in my career. The first was Peterborough Evening Telegraph editor Bob Crawley, who took a chance on a 40-something and made me production editor, involving me in conferences and newsgathering.
The second was Newcastle Journal editor Mark Dickinson, who took a chance on a 40-something-and-more and made me chief sub; later assistant editor and gave me a wide remit involving all aspects of producing a newspaper.
Both proved they were good journalists by recognising the stories people wanted to read and increasing sales.
Apart from your own title, which other newspapers do you most admire?
No one title, but in fact every weekly newspaper in the UK – I know how hard it is and how we’re sometimes viewed as “tiddlers”, but we are closer to our readers than most other newspapers.