Confessions of an Editor

At their recent meeting Largs Probus Club members were treated to Confessions of an Editor by Drew Cochrane, former editor of the Largs & Millport Weekly News.

Drew apologised for appearing in a tracksuit, but after the meeting he going to participate in Walking Football at Inverclyde which he and Probus member Allan Little had been founder members of some six years ago. Drew described the activity as the Men’s Shed, without the shed.

He then went on to describe how he has just realised that by the end of this year, he will have been retired from his role at the “Wee Paper” for ten years. Drew was appointed as editor to the paper as a twenty-two year old, the youngest editor in the UK at that time. He then went on to serve there for forty years which accorded him the title of longest serving editor in the UK. He said he thought he should retire before he ended up the oldest editor in the UK.

Drew brought with him some classic editions of the Largs & Millport Weekly News and passed them around the gathering, drawing attention to one headline from 1994 which reported “Largs Thistle, Champions of Scotland”. This produced cheers from the audience.

He went on give an account of his early days in reporting and explained he was well placed to become a reporter as he had gained a Higher in English and Commercial Studies. This was a class that equipped him with the ability to type and take shorthand, qualifications which meant that when he took up his first reporting position with the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald he could be sent anywhere and everywhere to cover events.

Drew regaled the gathering with many amusing anecdotes of his early days as a cub reporter and subsequently when he became editor at the News. He remarked that one of the things about being an old school editor was that he paid attention to minding his “Ps & Qs”. He explained how important grammar and punctuation were to journalism, adding that journalists were also taught to observe the “Five wise Men of Journalism” i.e. to ask who, why, what, where and when and sometimes how. He explained that a journalist asking these questions would normally get the correct context of a story.

Using punctuation correctly has a huge bearing on context and meaning and Drew displayed the importance of this by displaying some headlines with hilarious misplaced commas or apostrophes.

Jim Canning thanked Drew for his highly informative and amusing presentation on his long carer in journalism, which was extremely well received by members.

Largs Probus Club will next meet in the Willowbank Hotel on 20th March for coffee and scones when members Bernie Rafferty, Douglas Coulter and John Riddell will each speak for ten minutes on a subject of their choice. On 27th March Bill Roger will speak on Culzean Castle and the Kennedy Family.