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Former daily editor dies days after writing final column

Malcolm BarkerA daily editor who launched the longest-running charity campaign in the regional press has died aged 86, days after writing his final column.

Tributes have been paid to Malcolm Barker, pictured left, who ran the Yorkshire Evening Post from 1970 to 1987 and was awarded the OBE for services to journalism in that year.

Malcolm, who passed away in his home town of Harrogate, remained a regular contributor to sister title The Yorkshire Post and continued to write for the paper until days before his death.

In his final column, published on 5 September, he paid tribute to the Queen as she prepared to become the nation’s longest-reigning monarch.

During his stint in charge at the YEP Malcolm launched the newspaper’s Half and Half appeal to raise funds for two Leeds hospices.

The campaign is still run annually to this day and is believed to be the longest running newspaper charity campaign in the country.

Chris Bye, who succeeded Malcolm as YEP editor, said: “Malcolm became a legend in all newspaper journalism.

“He was a highly skilled writer and editor who made a great impact on the community he so ably served. He was well-loved by his staff and will be sadly missed.”

Tracy Dick, director of fundraising at St Gemma’s Hospice, said Malcolm had shown tremendous support for the city’s hospices.

“The Half and Half Appeal has raised millions over the years, enabling the hospices to provide expert medical and nursing care to many thousands of local people in need of specialist end-of-life care. We will forever be grateful.,” she said.

Malcolm was born into a distinguished journalism family in Whitby where both his father and grandfather had been editors of the Whitby Gazette.

After attending Whitby Grammar School, he joined that paper as a reporter, moving to the Doncaster Chronicle and the South Yorkshire edition of the Yorkshire Evening Post after national service with the RAF.

While working in the Doncaster office he met his future wife, fellow journalist Janet Greenwood, whom he married in 1958.

The previous year, Malcolm had transferred to the paper’s head office in Albion Street, Leeds, where he became a features and leader writer, combining jobs which had previously been carried out by two full-time colleagues.

After a brief stint as features editor of the Yorkshire Post from 1967-69, he was appointed deputy editor of the YEP under the late John Edwards, and the following year was made editor.

He continued to be a prolific writer in retirement, producing his weekly YP column as well as a number of books.

Malcolm is survived by his wife Janet, their children Thea and Patrick, five grandchildren and a great grandson.

13 comments

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  • September 21, 2015 at 9:33 am
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    Sad news. Malcolm was a superb writer and very successful editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post in an era when regional journalism thrived and editorial standards mattered.

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  • September 21, 2015 at 9:37 am
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    That’s sad to hear. I knew Malcolm and Janet when I was chief sub of the South Yorkshire edition of the Yorkshire Evening News way back in the ’60s. The YEP was in Scot Lane, I remember, and we were in Printing Office Street. I sometimes wonder how many from those days in Doncaster are still around. Because there was another Reg in our office – Reg Hardy who was editor Jim Pennington’s deputy – I was always known as Hector in those days.

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  • September 21, 2015 at 10:12 am
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    Malcolm gave me my first job on the EP, as a news sub, although I’d applied for a business vacancy. It went like this: “Know anything about business, lad?” “Er, no.” “Well, I’d better give you a job on on news, hadn’t I then?”.
    He had a warmth, a sense of humour and, with a life outside journalism, a perspective lacking in some who in that macho age would readily resort to threats and intimidation in the heat of producing a busy daily paper.
    Just a few weeks ago he sent the YP production unit a message thanking whoever subbed his column for trimming his prose to the necessary length without losing its thread or character, a kind gesture that seemed like it was from another age. So, I suspect, was Malcolm. himself.

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  • September 21, 2015 at 11:11 am
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    First rate editor, first rate man. Sympathy to Janet and the family. I expect he’s having a “catch-up” with John Edwards as we speak. Can you get Teachers in the hereafter?

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  • September 21, 2015 at 11:48 am
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    Malcolm was a great bloke. I was NUJ FoC at the Yorkshire Evening Post during much of his time as editor. He was more than fair, and welcomed a pint with staff in the pub after work. He and news editor Geoff Hemingway gave me a job on the YEP in 1972. I stayed until 2012 – just short of 40 years. Shortly before his retirement a team of us went to his original home town, Whitby, where we commissioned a desk writing set made out of Whitby Jet as a retirement gift. Malcom visited Whitby when he could, and would enjoy a pint or two in Robin Hood’s Bay. Great times – before the bean counters reigned supreme.

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  • September 21, 2015 at 3:00 pm
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    Lovely man. I was a sports reporter on YEN at Donny at the same time. Happy snooker sessions at Burton’s at lunchtimes. He worked alongside Ian Skidmore. Happy days. RIP.

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  • September 21, 2015 at 3:47 pm
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    Malcolm was kind, generous and good-hearted. When I was given the 4pm late sub slot on the YEP, not long after I joined the paper, a story broke on PA about Humberside being abolished. I charged downstairs to comps to get it in the late night final. It meant stopping the presses which I thought afterwards might have been less than a career enhancing move.

    I saw Malcolm approaching my desk the following morning with some trepidation. But he was beaming and thanked me warmly for taking responsibility to get an important story in the paper.

    In recent years our paths crossed quite often at Harrogate Hospital and Malcolm was always cheery and interested in how I and the YEP were doing.

    A true gentleman and a very fine newspaperman and editor.

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  • September 22, 2015 at 3:25 am
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    So sorry to read about Malcolm, but thrilled to observe his brilliant career and happiness with Janet and family. I first met Janet when I lived at Bentley with my first wife Cassie with Tony Hawkins and Muriel for all those wonderful days on the YEN at Donny with Alan Hobday and the lads at The Star and YEP. Later met Malcolm, always a genuine bloke, good friend and great journalist. I recall coffee at Priestnalls and do’s at Hatfield – wonderful times until I left YEP subs in Leeds in 1960 for 50 happy years in Brum and began gardenwriting. Began my subbing at YEN Leeds with Jack Childs, Harry Preston, David Hopkinson and Denys Futrell. And great men such as Malcolm were just across the road – what glorious times we had. Well done Malcolm a life well lived.

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  • September 22, 2015 at 5:50 am
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    Malcolm was both my editor and a good friend. The best years of the Yorkshire Evening Post were under his guidance. He was a top class leader of a first class team.

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  • September 22, 2015 at 9:10 am
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    Interesting names from the past in the comment by Peter of Stratford-on-Avon. I seem to recall a somewhat chaotic chap called Jim Gallagher, who was our liaison sub based in Leeds. Stanley Houghton was our editor at Doncaster followed by Jim P.

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  • September 22, 2015 at 10:29 am
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    Malcolm gave me my first job on an evening paper when I joined the YEP in its heyday in the 80s – a fine man who led a great team back in the day.

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  • September 22, 2015 at 2:05 pm
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    my surname is here included for you to add to my message

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  • September 30, 2015 at 7:01 pm
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    Memories of Malcolm are inevitably filled with laughter. He is fondly remembered as an old school editor who fought fiercely for his team of journalists – and for the highest standards. He was a regional newspaper giant. Not many of those now. Farewell Malcolm.,

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