30 years of editing newspapers: the joy of being part of an industry I love

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It was 30 years ago this very week that I became a newspaper editor.

Three decades later the job I do bears almost no relation to the one I commenced that day in January 1993 when they ushered me into my office at the Glenrothes Gazette, with a “good morning Mr Crow” - the first and last time anyone has called me that.

I can still recall the nervousness as my MD told me I was legally responsible for every single word. I found myself glancing down the columns of articles for sale deep in the classifieds … just in case!

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I’m lucky. I have a job I love in an industry that, for all its chaos, its constant and debilitating cutbacks and ever shifting sands has fascinated me since my schooldays.

From typewriters to smart phones... 30 years as an editor have flown pastFrom typewriters to smart phones... 30 years as an editor have flown past
From typewriters to smart phones... 30 years as an editor have flown past

Over the decades I’ve been told with absolute authority many times that ‘print is dead’ - but we’re still here in a new, scary world where opinions are treated as facts, and people howl at the moon across social media.

I was 15 years old when I first stepped inside a newsroom. Bill Lothian at the Edinburgh Evening News gave me a Saturday gig reporting on East of Scotland League football matches for the old Pink newspaper A visit to the old Scotsman buildings up The Bridges in Edinburgh gave me a glimpse of the only world I wanted to be part of.

Jimmy Ross gave me a job as a trainee reporter on the Glenrothes Gazette. He also gave me my first bollocking! I’d filed a story on a family taking part in ITV’s Family Fortunes and then skived to do my part-time role as an usher at the Playhouse Theatre, ignoring his instruction to watch the show.

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“What did the host said that made everyone laugh?” he asked the next morning Rumbled!

Barely two months after moving into my GDC flat, a reshuffle sent me off to Ayrshire. The five years at the Cumnock Chronicle taught me everything I needed to be a reporter. Alex Clark, my editor, was a brilliant mentor. He also instilled in me a lifelong passion for newspaper design which shaped the Fife Free Press, and every other paper I’ve managed. I owe him everything.

Leon Vyrva, my MD, changed my career when he called me up to his house on a Sunday night, gave me a beer and told me he was giving me the editor’s chair at Glenrothes. That was my interview!

I owe so much to so many - too many to thank here for fear of the sin of omission. I’m lucky to be in an industry that truly is blessed with some of the most talented, creative, committed people who give their time, expertise and guidance so freely.

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And newspapers are much more than the bylines you see in print. Our office at Kirk Wynd was filled with people who had huge pride in their paper - the buzz they created made it a very special place to work.

The three decades have whizzed by. Watching a newsroom roar into life is a thing of beauty. True, we do it now via Google Chat rather than yelling across the desks, but when news breaks, and everything clicks into a groove, it still beats working for a living.