Monday, May 07, 2012

And best editor goes to...

David Montgomery. The steely-eyed, dour Ulsterman was not everybody’s cup of tea but he was a genius at spotting a story and telling it with maximum impact. He was Editor of Today in the immediate post-Eddy Shah days and I was the Production Editor, tasked with manhandling the wobbly colour and mainframe-powered ‘on-screen make-up’ system, as it was called then.
Montgomery worked six days a week, and seemingly all day and all night. He called me at late o’clock to make changes to pages that had already been changed and he called me at early o’clock to find out why the papers were late in Truro.
His attention to detail was troubling but his feel for how to play the big story unerringly precise. On the Sunday morning after the Hillsborough disaster we pored over hundreds of images looking for the most powerful pictures that would tell the story without being distasteful. He didn’t shy away from disturbing but he knew from his experience at the News of the World just what the readers couldn’t stomach.
He loved a poster front and powerful picture spread and all this in pre-digital days. I was the man who had to load the slides into the carousel the right way up first time round, a task I can still perform if ever required.
I joined Today pre-launch as part of Shah’s vision to bring bright young things from the provinces into the rough-tough world of national newspapers.
Working alongside the old hands - deep breath here - including Brian MacArthur, Jonathan Holborrow, Jane Reed, Anthony Holden, Pat Pilton, Ron Morgans, Tessa Hilton, Ray Cave and Len Gould was a fantastic education.
A lot of us – including future editors Colin Myler, Amanda Platell, Nicola Jeal and Geordie Greig – have a lot to thank Today for. And I have a lot to thank David Montgomery for.
  • An extract from ‘Six of the best’ which appears in the May 2012 issue of PressGazette


  1. Anonymous12:03 PM

    Hey Alan, you may remember me as one of the fellow rough necks from the provinces. My recollection of David Montgomery are pretty much as yours. The most driven editor I have ever worked for/with. Totally ruthless but always very fair in his dealings with me. David Johns

  2. The most powerful pictures that would tell the story without being distasteful.
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