A Yorkshire journalist who has retired after 65 years says that today’s news coverage is ‘awful’ and that too many stories are missed.
Alan Berry, 82, worked as a reporter, sub-editor, and feature writer on titles in Sheffield and Doncaster during his long career, which also included a spell on the Yorkshire Evening Post working alongside Michael Parkinson.
Until recently he still wrote a bygones column in the Doncaster Star.
Alan, who was awarded an MBE for his services to local journalism in 1991, fired a parting shot at the local journalism of today in a farewell interview with Star reporter Martin Smith.
“Over 65 years there have been some great stories and good times, I’ve always loved the job whether as a reporter, feature writer or sub-editor. But you get to the point where you feel you have done your whack,” he said.
“When I look at the quality of news coverage we get now I think it’s awful. There are so few reporters now and so many stories are missed. We covered all the big stories back then, newspapers were where everyone got information, not like today.
“When I first started at the Doncaster Chronicle in 1945 there were three weekly papers and two evenings in the town, all with their own staff. They used to say that the Doncaster Chronicle office ran on fags, bad language and endless cups of tea. They were different days.”
“I wouldn’t change a thing though. Journalism suited me, it’s been a great job. I have no regrets about my career or any other part of my life.”
In his interview, Alan said he had no real desire to be a pioneering journalist, “just a desire to know things about people and what’s going on in the world.”
“I remember the Creswell pit disaster of 1950 where 80 men died, that was a huge story, a terrible accident, and we covered the Munich air disaster, general elections and major events but one sticks in my mind that was something and nothing really,” he said.
“We used to be very interested in the canal and I heard a story that some people were living in a sunken barge at Stainforth. So I went out to the canal basin there and there was this Sheffield-size, Humber-keel barge with one end sunk and the other up at an angle out of the water with a family living at the dry end.
“It had all been sunk but they’d raised part of it and were living in that half. Amazing.”
Alan also recalled the time he worked with ‘Parky’ in the Doncaster office of the YEP.
“I was a sub-editor on the Chronicle when a young Michael Parkinson started work there. He certainly livened the whole place up.
“He was a good reporter, that was the main thing about him. He came in and told some of the old boys how they should do the job and of course they didn’t like that.
“He was said to have had a row with the editor who was supposed to have thrown a diary at him – but I think it might have been the other way round. “