Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A debt of honour

A few months' back, I ran into a former boss of mine at the Society of Editors' Conference in Bristol. After reminiscing for a few minutes about old times and old colleagues, he offered up the following interesting observation on my career: "You've worked for some pretty nasty people in your time, haven't you?"

He had a point, but thankfully, they've not all been like that, and it was a source of huge pleasure that today, 23 years after he gave me my start in journalism, it fell to me as publisher of HoldtheFrontPage to pen a parting tribute to my first editor, Jeremy Plews.

Jeremy is standing down as editor of the Mansfield Chad later this month after an amazing 36 years in charge. Although I hedged my bets somewhat in the story, I am quite sure he must be the longest-serving editor in the UK and quite possibly the longest-serving since WW2.

He told me with typical generosity that "the best aspect of the job over the years was being able to give a first break to so many youngsters, and the satisfaction gained from seeing many of them go on to success elsewhere." I feel genuinely privileged to have been one of those.

When I was plotting my route into journalism, I never expected to start my career in a place like Mansfield, in the bitter aftermath of the miners' strike and in the midst of the inexorable demise of the Nottinghamshire coal industry. But looking back, I'm bloody glad I did.

Quite apart from all the friends I made in that part of the world - two of whom are now godparents to my son - it was the best damned training I could possibly have wished for on the best damned weekly newspaper in the country. Thanks Jeremy.

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