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‘State of industry plunged me into clinical depression’, says former daily editor

Richard Harris

A former regional daily editor has blamed the state of the newspaper industry for “plunging him into clinical depression”.

Richard Harris, who had what he called a “brief and unsuccessful spell” as editor of the Carlisle News & Star during his 55-year career, has spoken out about his mental health struggles.

Richard also worked for the Western Daily Press and Nottingham Post while in the industry and went freelance after being sacked from the News & Star in 1993.

He has now opened up about suffering from the “misery of depression”, which he had previously believed was “something other people got” until he was himself diagnosed.

Richard, pictured, said: “It really distressed me to see once-great newspapers – especially the ones I’d worked on – reduced to mere shadows of their former selves.

“It led me to question the value of what I had done with my life and what had been the point of it all.

“It was as if the career that had been the centre of my life, and had given me so much in terms of enjoyment and job satisfaction, had been meaningless.”

Richard has now published a book about his depression and his attempts to overcome it after his GP told him he “thought too much” and suggested he tackle “some big project” to banish the negative worries that were filling his head.

It follows his earlier 2012 autobiography The Accidental Editor in which he wrote frankly about his career, admitting he had “not been up to the job” of editing the News & Star despite having been recommended for the role by the legendary Nottingham Post editor Barrie Williams.

Richard wrote at the time: “I quickly discovered I wasn’t up to being editor and, no surprise, three and a half years later they sacked me.”

The latest book , entitled Walking Back to Happiness, was inspired by a series of walks he took in the Carlisle postcode area of North Cumbria where he lives, with his route being chosen by an online postcode generator.

All profits from the book, which is available here, will go to Carlisle Eden Mind, the local charity that supports people with mental health problems in North Cumbria.

Added Richard: “In my years as a reporter I discovered that everyone I met was interesting if you asked the right questions and took the time to listen to their answers.

“My random postcode walks gave me the chance to prove that that was equally true of places – that everywhere is interesting if you take the trouble to find out more about it.

“It started just as a way of taking my mind off the misery of depression, but it turned into one of the best things I have ever done.”