The former Scottish political editor of the Press Association has picked up a top industry accolade.
Joe Quinn picked up a lifetime achievement honour in The Herald’s Scottish Politician of the Year 2011 awards.
Joe took early retirement last year after almost 35 years with PA where he was chief Scotland correspondent before taking on the politics brief 10 years before his retirement.
On his retirement he spoke to AllMediaScotland and gave some insights into his life and times as a newsman on the top of his game.
Speaking about his shorthand skills, which he became well known for, he said: “My shorthand skills are greatly exaggerated. They used to be quite good, but that was in a more forgiving era when people spoke more slowly.
“Nowadays, politicians, in particular, speak much more quickly – out of a combination of nervousness, trying to cram everything into a short broadcast interview, and a touching belief that if they speak fast enough no-one will be able to get a question in.
“What they overlook is that the equitability of what they say is in inverse proportion to its speed and length.
“There is also a world of difference between taking notes at something like First Minister’s Questions – where you would be mad not to have a dictaphone – and the more orderly and measured setting of a court case, where you would be mad to even think of taking a recorder.
“Incidentally, I found tape recorders make you very literal-minded. Previously, I would not hesitate to tidy up the grammar of a quote. Now, when it’s a fast-talking and sentence-mangling politician and you know it’s going out on live TV, I tend to play safe and stick with the exact words, even though that can look daft in cold print.”
So a journalist without shorthand is not really a journalist at all? “Not at all – horses for courses, it depends on the type of event you’re covering.
“But surely it’s a pretty basic thing to ask of a reporter – you were there, what did so-and-so have to say for themselves?
“If you haven’t got shorthand you can do it with a tape-recorder but it will take a lot longer – assuming it’s an event where you can use a tape.”