AddThis SmartLayers

Former journalist honoured by Prime Minister dies at 73

A former regional daily investigative journalist who was presented with an award in 1978 by the then Prime Minister has died at the age of 73.

Alan Whitsitt worked at the Belfast Telegraph for around 20 years as part of his career, which saw him later become a journalism lecturer.

He worked for the now-defunct Sunday News before joining the Telegraph and while working there was named National Reporter of the Year in 1978 for a series of articles about the Maze prison, being presented with the award by Labour PM James Callaghan.

Alan met his wife Janet while working at the Telegraph, where she worked in accounts, and she has paid tribute to him after his death.

She told the paper: “Alan was a cranky and opinionated character, but was loved and respected by all who knew him.”

Alan embraced new technology and used computers to produce stories when his journalist colleagues were still using typewriters.

After leaving the Telegraph, he became head of journalism at the Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education, teaching budding reporters who were entering the industry.

Former Telegraph editor Martin Lindsay said: “He was an investigative journalist before it became fashionable in regional newspapers.

“I was Alan’s news editor at the height of the Troubles and he was an off-the-wall character, who tackled the most difficult of assignments with flair and dedication.”

John Caruth, a former features editor at the paper, added: “Alan had his own way of doing things and he was usually right. He had such an original mind and you could depend on him coming up with the kind of stories people wanted to read.”

Alan leaves his wife Janet, their daughter Ruth and a son and daughter from a previous marriage.