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Former regional sub and technological pioneer dies aged 72

Mike DaveyA former regional journalist described as one of the first to master and harness new technologies has died aged 72.

Tributes have been paid to Mike Davey, pictured left, who embarked on a career on Fleet Street after working at local newspapers in the South-East of England.

A former deputy chief sub-editor of the Aldershot News and Essex daily The Echo, Mike went on to become joint production and systems editor at the News of the World.

Former colleague James Anslow, the newspaper’s former chief production editor, said Mike’s finest professional hour was the night Princess Diana died in 1997.

He added: “It was the editorial production team, and Mike’s brilliantly applied knowledge of page-pairing and distribution, that allowed multiple editions of Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper to reach the shops, with the latest information about the tragedy, throughout the next day. All at a time before social media was around to instantly relay the news.

“Bearded Mike sometimes appeared gruff to those who did not know him, particularly rookies nervously seeking his advice on some subbing keyboard instruction or others. But, like the rest of us, they soon learned how helpful and supportive he could be.

“He was proud of journalists and journalism and, although not overtly political, he disliked injustice.

“I stood with him on more than one NUJ picket line, and I remember locking arms with him as he propelled his powerful frame against the later disbanded Special Patrol Group during a dispute in Stratford, east London, in the 1970s.”

Mike’s career began on the Surrey & Hants News, in Farnham, in September 1960.

After three years there he transferred to the Guildford Times, before again moving on to the Surrey Comet in 1964.

Between 1966 and 1969 he was deputy chief sub-editor at the Aldershot News, later spending two year sat the Press Association before taking on the same role with the Echo.

During his time in Essex, the Echo was one of the first web-offset, computer-printed evening newspapers.

James said: “Throughout his 45-year career, and long before the internet revolution, he was always one of the first journalists to master and harness new technologies, rather than recoil from their perceived complexities.

He added: “His genius was locating the strengths in new technologies, and showing the rest of us not to be afraid of them, but to use them to our advantage.”