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Editor who made weekly among UK’s best-sellers dies aged 73

An award-winning editor who led his newspaper to being one of the “best-selling” weeklies in the country has died aged 73.

Tributes have been paid to John Pearn, who edited both the Cornish Guardian and the West Briton during his career.

John, pictured, ran the Bodmin-based Guardian, where he began his career in 1967, from 1989 to 1996 and then the Truro-based West Briton. He retired in 2004.

During his time at the West Briton, the paper won a number of awards including the Newspaper Society’s Weekly Newspaper of the Year award in 2001 and became Northcliffe’s biggest-selling weekly in England.

John Pearn

John, who died last Friday, also presided over a 10.6pc circulation increase at the paper.

Former journalist Matt Dixon told Cornwall Live: “John took me on as a junior reporter for the Cornish Guardian in the late 1990s and I couldn’t have wished for a better first editor.

“Unlike many newspaper chiefs of the day, John was always an unflappable influence in the newsroom, which had a reassuring, emboldening effect on me and many others.

“I followed him to the West Briton in 1998 and for the ensuing five years he presided over the paper’s biggest-ever circulation figures, peaking at around 55,000 a week.

“His easy management style and gentle nature provided the ideal foundation for a treasured time in my career, when the newsroom was chock full of great journalists, great characters and some occasionally great stories.

“He had a very dry sense of humour – often quipping with a knowing glint in his eye – and his passions for music, rugby and a pint were indicative of the county he loved so much.

“He was one of the last old-school editors and a fantastic figurehead for the Cornish Guardian and latterly the West Briton. Cornwall – and Bodmin – has lost a good ‘un.”

Cornwall Live local democracy reporter Lee Trewhela, who joined the West Briton under John’s editorship, added: I’m very sad to hear that John has left us for that great gig in the sky.

“As editor, he guided the West Briton with a level head, an easy charm and a strong news sense, which was demonstrated through the beloved Cornish weekly’s sales.

“The WB was among the best-selling newspapers in the land during his leadership.”