More than four decades of continuous service to a regional daily came to an end last week with the retirement of a photographer turned website editor.
Phil Burner initially jonied the Southern Daily Echo in October 1968 as a darkroom assistant before becoming a staff photographer in 1972 and rising to picture editor in 1993.
After overseeing the change to digital pictures, he switched roles in 1998 to become the content editor of the Daily Echo’s new website, which he designed himself.
The site grew to be one of the most successful in the country with more than 3.8m page views a month.
A one-paper man, Phil cites his most memorable moment as the day after Southampton won the FA Cup in 1976 when he was invited on board the open top celebration bus with the players, which toured the city past tens of thousands of fans.
Other highlights were meeting famous people including Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
Phil, 62, said: “The best thing about being a photographer is something happens and you get the chance to actually go and talk to the people who make the news. As a photographer you often become a second pair of ears alongside the reporter.”
Asked what he would miss about the newsroom, he said: “It’s that excitement, that buzz. When everyone’s back is against the wall, it just works. People start shouting, people pitch in and people come in on their days off because that is what we do.”
Echo editor Ian Murray made a leaving presentation to Phil last Thursday in front of a packed newsroom full of colleagues past and present.
He said: “I’d like to express my gratitude to Phil for the way he worked tirelessly to create one of the most successful news websites in the country. He will be sorely missed by his colleagues.”