Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Regional newspaper Hall of Fame

Eric Price

In the last few weeks, we have lost three giants of the regional Press. Former Western Daily Press editor Eric Price's death last week came only two weeks after Walter Greenwood died and a month after the death of David Williams,  the campaigning editor of the Evening Argus in Brighton. In five weeks the Regional Press's Hall of Fame lost three of its members. The Hall of Fame was put together in 2006 when Ian Reeves, then editor of the Press Gazette, asked me to chair a panel to select the 40 people who had made the most significant contribution to regional journalism in the last 40 years. It was to celebrate the Press Gazette's 40th anniversary. The first challenge was the panel. Its members had to have seniority, they had to be long-serving and be representative of geographical areas and newspaper groups. There were seven of us: Manchester Evening News editor, Paul Horrocks, former Cumbrian Newspapers editorial director Keith Sutton, Trinity Mirror editorial director Neil Benson, former Western Daily Press editor and editors' code committee secretary Ian Beales, former York Evening Press editor Liz Page who was with Archant at the time and Johnston Press editorial executive David Rowell.
Then there was the criteria - the nominees had to be journalists. We also didn't want this to just become a list of long-serving editors so writers, photographers, columnists, subs, cartoonists had to be considered. I asked the panel members, when they were mulling over the 120 names before us, to think about what the intro would be. If it was simply 'They served the paper for 18 years and remained committed to the Guild of Editors', it was unlikely they would make the cut. We wanted people who had made a difference. Press Gazette readers were also invited to send in nominations.
Ian Reeve said at the time: "On completion of their task, the panel winced about the shortage of women which, although uncomfortable, reflects the reality of the years in question. There were also few working editors. Is this because we halo our predecessors rather than our peers or is it that today's editors are less inclined to put their heads above the parapet? Maybe it was because the panel were uncertain, as they were only part way through their tenure, how history would judge them".
The first 25 names were easy, the second 15 almost impossible. We discussed them long into the night, had heated words, and then came back for more. We finally settled on 40 names. Those still alive were invited to the Regional Press Awards and framed portraits of each one were hung on the wall. The intention was to add someone each year.
A booklet containing a commissioned article on each of the 40 was produced. The deaths of Eric, Walter and David encouraged me to go through my old files and retrieve it. It is still a fascinating read. But it really does feel as though it belongs to a totally different age. It shows the massive changes there have been in our industry in the last seven years. If we did the exercise again, would we choose the same 40? I wonder. Perhaps the Press Gazette, which will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015, should resurrect the idea.

Here is the list, in alphabetical order, along with the headlines from the booklet.

Mike Amos, MBE (Northern Echo columnist)
Legendary columnist and local celebrity who, for many, personifies his paper
Barry Askew (editor, Lancashire Evening Post and News of the World. Died 2012)
A colourful editor who never passed up an opportunity to shake up the establishment
Colin Brannigan, OBE (editor, Sheffield Star; md, Essex County Newspapers)
Campaigning innovator who was ahead of his time and a passionate advocate of local content
Frank Branston (founder, Bedfordshire on Sunday. Died 2009)
From sarcastic Sunday Express office boy to multi-millionaire mayor of Bedford
Roger Cross (crime specialist, Yorkshire Post; author, The Yorkshire Ripper. Died 1994)
Larger than life character and accomplished raconteur who produced a stream of Yorkshire exclusives
Ed Curran (editor-in-chief, Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life)
Ace Ulster journalist who remains on first name terms with all sides
Sean Dooley (editor, Gloucestershire Echo and The Sentinel, Stoke)
Shrewd editor who transformed Stoke daily and launched ground-breaking Sunday
Ian Dowell, MBE (editor, Birmingham Evening Mail)
People's champion who was not afraid of taking on the big guns on behalf of the readers
Geoff Elliott, CBE (editor Kent Messenger, Coventry Telegraph, The News, Portsmouth; head of journalism, University of Central Lancashire)
Pace-setter of journalistic standards with a passion for excellence, integrity and determination
Sir Harold Evans (editor, The Northern Echo, The Sunday Times and The Times; author of many books on journalism)
Possibly the greatest editor of all time, set the standard for campaigning journalism
Peter Franzen, OBE (editor, Eastern Daily Press)
Transformed an old-fashioned broadsheet into the first compact newspaper
Stuart Garner (editorial director and chief executive, Thomson Regional Newspapers)
Steely nerve and willingness to make big decisions
John Gibson (sports writer, Evening Chronicle, Newcastle; executive sports editor Newcastle Chronicle & Journal Ltd)
The North-East's larger than life sports reporter who won the respect and trust of players and fans
Walter Greenwood (head of Thomson Regional Newspapers training centre; co-author of Essential Law for Journalists for 27 years. Died 2013)
The man to turn to for expert advice on court reporting laws
Bill Heeps (chief executive and chairman, Thomson Regional Newspapers. Died 1995)  
Tireless toubleshooter who oversaw a revolution in new technology
Nick Herbert, Lord Hemingford (editor, Cambridge Evening News; editorial director, Westminster Press)
Inspirational editorial director who gave the best possible advice
Ron Hunt, MBE (editor, Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph; executive editor of EMAP newspapers; editor, Diss Express)
He brought out his evening paper single-handedly during a long strike
Bob James (lecturer, typographer, designer, author, development editor with Westminster Press. Died 2004)
He knew all there was to know about typography and kick-started a new era in training
Grenfell Jones (Gren), MBE (cartoonist, South Wales Echo. Died 2007)
South Wales's most eminent cartoonist who brought a daily smile to readers
Alex Leys (editor Lincolnshire Echo, Derby Telegraph, Leicester Mercury; founding editor UK News; editorial director at Northcliffe)
The first of a new Northcliffe breed that shook the regional newspaper world
Peter Long (launch editor, Chester Tonight; editor-in-chief of Celtic Newspapers)
His brave innovations revitalised titles in the South Wales Valleys
Toby Melville (photographer Bristol United Press, Press Association, Reuters)
Photojournalist with a natural ability to capture every mood at its fullest
Maureen Messent (columnist, Evening Mail, Birmingham)
Colourful writer who could be hard-nosed inquisitor or tearful agony aunt
Peter Moore (editor, Grimsby Telegraph. Died 2004)
Campaigning editor who always had time for his readers and staff
Jean Morgan (reporter, UK Press Gazette)
Intrepid reporter scared management and never failed to get the big stories
Chris Oakley, CBE (editor, Liverpool Echo; editor-in-chief Birmingham Post & Mail; chief executive Midland Independent Newspapers and Regional Independent Media)
Editor-turned-entrepreneur who helped transform the regional Press
Steve Panter (crime reporter and news-editor, Manchester Evening News)
Fearless crime reporter who risked jail to protect source
Ian Park, CBE (editor-in-chief and md Liverpool Post & Echo; chief executive and chairman, Northcliffe Newspapers)
Sharp, disciplined executive both feared and revered by editors
Keith Parker, OBE (editor, md Express & Star, Wolverhampton. Died 2010)
Editor whose superb standards resulted in huge rises in circulation
Paul Potts (editor-in-chief and chief executive, Press Association)
Indefatigable journalist who became boss who transformed PA group
Eric Price (editor, Western Daily Press; editorial director, Bristol Evening Post. Died 2013)
Miracle worker who transformed the fortunes of the West Country's top title
Allan Prosser (editor, The Northern Echo; editorial director, Kent Messenger Group; md of North of England Newspapers)
Powerhouse who saw off all detractors to modernise and reinvigorate a great daily
Terry Quinn (editor, Bradford T&A, Evening News, Edinburgh, Daily Record; editorial director, Thomson Regional Newspapers)
Driven editor and creative thinker who refused to take no for an answer
Bob Satchwell (editor, Cambridge Evening News; executive director, Society of Editors)
Incisive editor who has become battling leader of Society of Editors
Stephen Shakeshaft (photographer and picture editor, Liverpool Post & Echo)
An illuminating lensman capturing the biggest stars and ordinary people
Anita Syvret (editor, Gloucestershire Echo)
Pioneering female daily newspaper editor who survived by putting readers first
Tony Watson (editor, Yorkshire Post; editorial director and md, the Press Association)
Young editor presided over a new golden age for venerable Yorkshire institution
Tom Welsh (editor Evening Mail, Barrow; director of journalism at City University; co-author of Essential Law)
Co-author of the journalists' law bible and a prominent voice for Press freedom
Barrie Williams (editor, Kent Evening Post, Nottingham Evening Post and Western Morning News)
Brought a single-minded passion to his three long editorships
David Williams (editor, Brighton Evening Argus and Bury Free Press. Died 2013)
Inspired and brave editor who rolled up his sleeves and led from the front

1 comment:

  1. Hi Peter,
    I've come out in a cold sweat remembering the amount of grief I got from those who didn't make it on to the list.
    Now here's a question: if you were adding to the Hall of Fame today, would you induct Monty?