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. This week: Malcolm Hoddy, editor in chief of the Keighley News, Ilkley Gazette, and Wharfedale and Aireborough Observer.
What was your first job in journalism?
Like other contributors my first job was editor of a cycling club magazine. But the first paid job was as a junior reporter on the Pudsey News – so long ago I can’t remember the date. I remember that all I had left out of my wage was a ten bob note to last a week.
Who or what inspired you to go into journalism?
My first choice of job was to work for the Forestry Commission (not a lumberjack) but I didn’t have the qualifications. My final grammar school report had ‘bright future wasted – lackadaisical’ written across it. A kindly careers master suggested journalism was for me and fixed up an interview with the boss of the Ackrill Group. I got the job and have been doing the job now for 45 years apart from a two week spell on the dole.
What would you rate as your best story, headline or picture?
Having spent 20 years plus as a freelance – before getting a ‘proper-job’ – I have worked on some of the biggest stories the land has seen. From the Poulson scandal to the Black Panther, the Bradford City fire, and of course the Yorkshire Ripper. – having covered everyone of the murders and subsequent arrest and trial reaction.
Who would you rate as the best journalist you have worked either with or for?
This is not a cop-out, but over the years, especially as a relatively young freelance, I had the honour of working with some of the then legends of the industry.I learned and honed skills watching them operate from the foot-in-the-door tactics to the silky smooth. The hard drinking, hell raising days may have simmered down – but there are still some very good hungry journalists out there.
Apart from your own title, which regional or national newspaper do you most admire and why?
In all honesty I don’t have a favourite. It depends on my mood. But the paper I mostly buy is the Mail on Sunday. There is always something it which sparks on idea for a follow up for the papers I edit. Like others before me I love picking up local papers no matter where I may be. I learned to read sitting with my dad as he studied the pages of the Telegraph & Argus – the paper I joined as news editor 25 years ago. It is still in my house most nights – I do actually buy a copy if I’m not at work.