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Newsroom in shock as award-winning journalist dies aged 43

A regional daily newsroom has been left in shock after the sudden death of an award-winning journalist at the aged of 43.

Joe Watson, left, had been farming editor at the Press and Journal, Aberdeen, since 1996 and was regarded as an authority on rural issues in the North-East of Scotland.

He was named regional newspaper agricultural editor of the year three times and The P&J’s farming supplement was also awarded for its work under his leadership.

Joe, described by his editor as a ‘gentle giant,’ passed away suddenly on Thursday last week.

Press and Journal editor-in-chief Damian Bates said: “We’re all absolutely stunned at the news of Joe’s premature passing.

“He was not only a brilliant journalist who travelled all over Scotland, the UK and Europe to cover farming matters, but he was also a great friend to us all and a really important part of The P&J family.

“Joe was a beautiful human being, a gentle giant and a skilled reporter who knew his subject inside and out.

“I can’t believe he’s been taken from us – we’re all heartbroken.”

The P&J devoted the entire front page of its regular Saturday farming pull-out to a picture of Joe, and there were a further three entire pages inside of tributes which included seven further photographs featuring its late farming editor.

A  report of Joe’s death and a picture also appeared on the paper’s main front front page.

Such was the respect in which Joe was held that tributes have been paid from across the political, farming and journalism communities in Scotland.

First minister Alex Salmond said:  “He has been taken from us at a tragically early age. It’s hard to believe we’ll never again see that burly figure, with his ubiquitous tweed jacket at the Turra Show.”

National Farmers Union Caithness chairman Arnot Coghill said the farming industry had lost a powerful voice.

“As far as agricultural journalism is concerned, Joe will be missed terribly. People looked to him as the voice of the farming industry,” he said.

Ewan Pate, farming editor of the Dundee Courier and Advertiser said: “The members of the Scottish agricultural press are a close-knit group who often hunt as a pack.

“When it came to asking difficult questions and winkling out the truth, no one was as determined as Joe. That was a mark of his professional approach to journalism as was his willingness to criss-cross the country in search of a good story.

Joe spent most of his career on the P&J having started out as a news reporter in the Banff area for the paper in 1989.

He left in 1994 but returned two years later to take up the farming editor’s position.


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  • March 10, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Horrible shock to hear about Joe’s death; a tremendous friend and colleague who was really respected by all who met him and worked with him.
    Jonathan Wheeler
    former Agricultural Correspondent
    Leicester Mercury

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  • March 10, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Obituary and tributes to Joe Watson, respected farming editor of the Press & Journal, and an active member of the Guild, at

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  • March 11, 2014 at 3:09 am

    This doesn’t mention how the guy died? Surely that is basic information that should be included.

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  • March 13, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Very sad news indeed. My condolences to family and friends, I worked with Joe on the P&J 1990-91, he was a great man. No details of funeral arrangements?

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