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Courier journalist bows out with farewell column

A Halifax Courier journalist due to lose her job as a result of the paper going weekly has penned a farewell column to readers.

Feature writer Virginia Mason is among seven editorial staff leaving the Johnston Press-owned title ahead of next week’s switch to weekly publication.

In her valedictory column she recalled interviewing John Hurt and covering the committal proceedings for Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe among her career highlights.

She also paid tribute to one of her former editors, Stephen Firth of the Brighouse Echo, who is also being made redundant in the current shake-up of JP’s Yorkshire operations.

Wrote Virginia: “I knew that when I left school, being a reporter would be the job for me, so straight from A Level studies I tipped up on the doorstep of the Brighouse Echo and asked for a job.

“Apart from a break to bring up my children, the Echo and then latterly the Courier, have been my life.

“The past decade and a half as a features’ writer and columnist has been one of the happiest stints in my long career. However, changes to the paper – from daily to weekly format – mean I will no longer be able to be part of the team here.

“I accept the changes – I’d be a Luddite not to – and for me, hopefully, it will be the opportunity for a new start.  Redundancy, someone told me recently, is not an ending but a beginning.

“I have had the privilege of working with some of journalism’s finest – not least a clutch of talented editors, who inspired and encouraged and who led by fine example.

“I want to pay tribute in particular to Stephen Firth with whom I spent many happy years at the Brighouse Echo, and Edward Riley who was my very first editor back in 1979.

“I then had the good fortune to serve under Edward a second time when both of us moved to the Courier.

“A true newspaperman in every sense of the word, with vision and integrity and the ability to spot a great, local news story at 40 paces and a stickler for accuracy, grammar and plain English, Edward, now retired, still for me epitomises everything a good regional editor should be.

“These are difficult times for newspapers and their journalists. The world of print is beginning to diminish.

“Many have asked me if I would choose a different career path if starting out all over again but the answer would be a resounding “no.” This has been the best job in the world and hopefully journalism and writing will continue to be part of my life.

“There may no longer be Virginia Mason in the Courier. But there’ll always be a part of the Courier in Virginia Mason.”

The column can be read in full here.

All seven journalists leaving the Courier volunteered for redundancy following the announcement of the daily-to-weekly switch.

As well as Virginia, they also include veteran womens’ editor Diane Crabtree and production editor Richard Porter.

Between 40-50 jobs are going across the board at the five JP dailies turning weekly from next week, all of which will publish their final daily editions tomorrow.

The other four are the Scarborough Evening News, Northampton Chronicle and Echo, Northants Evening Telegraph and Peterborough Evening Telegraph.


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  • May 24, 2012 at 6:52 am

    I had some great times sat by Virginia and Tim. A hilarious pair, and all us youngsters in the office couldn’t help but learn from them. Good luck with the next moves Virginia.

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  • May 24, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Good luck to you all …..not sure how Diane will feel about being a veteran though

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  • May 24, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    I was lucky enough to sit with Tim and Virg – as she was affectionately known by me – and learned so much from them both, as well as having great fun.
    They were my surrogate parents!
    I am sure Virginia will be sorely missed and wish her all the best.

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