Tributes paid to North East journalism law expert Walter Greenwood

Tributes have been paid to an esteemed media law training expert who has passed away following a period of ill health

Walter Greenwood
Walter Greenwood

Tributes have been paid to an esteemed media law training expert who has passed away following a period of ill health.

Walter Greenwood was a major force in training and advising on British journalistic law for more than 40 years.

He died at the age of 87 on Sunday at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital after battling ill health for a year.

Walter was, with Tom Welsh, co-author of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists and the pair guided the book through 13 editions during more than 30 years of editorship.

This volume has long been the standard set text for nearly every journalism training course in the country and it is an essential reference book.

Walter trained many famous journalists including Andrew Marr, James Naughtie, Lionel Barber, Sally Magnusson, Nic Gowing and education secretary Michael Gove.

Political commentator Andrew Marr said: “Walter Greenwood was not just an inspired and inspiring teacher but a completely committed and enthusiastic newspaperman of the old school.

“For young students, nothing might seem drier than newspaper law: Walter made it come alive with his enthusiasm and infectious good humour. I am only one of many hundreds of journalists today who owe him a huge debt and remember him with great fondness.”

Walter was a former assistant editor at Thomson Regional Newspapers, he moved into journalism training in the 1960s, and help to set up the group’s training centres in Newcastle and Cardiff.

He continued to play a part in the Newcastle centre, now run by the Press Association, and was instrumental in checking the papers for media law exams.

Tony Johnston, head of Press Association Training, said: “Walter Greenwood was a dedicated, influential and much loved figure in journalism training and media law for nearly half a century.

“As co-editor of Essential Law for Journalists he cared passionately about ensuring that journalists could stay within the law but still get their stories published.

“Even as his health worsened his appetite for news and his desire to keep in touch with changes in the law never waned.

“He followed the careers of every trainee who passed through his hands and had a phenomenal memory that allowed him to recall every name, every face and every law exam result going back nearly 50 years.”

In 2007 Walter was appointed a Fellow of the Society of Editors in recognition of the contribution Essential Law for Journalists had made to “the fight to maintain freedom of the media, freedom of expression and the public’s right to know.”

Then in 2010, he was awarded the National Council for the Training of Journalists’s Chairman’s award in recognition of his high standards of journalism training.

The same year the British Press Awards honoured Walter with their first Journalists’ Charity Award, as he had been an avid supporter of the charity.

Conservative Minister Michael Gove said: “Being taught journalism by Walter was like being taught football by Bill Shankly or playwriting by Alan Bennett - he was the master.

“He combined total professionalism with great good humour and a restless curiosity.

“Above all he taught his students the importance of putting the reader first - by recording facts fairly, writing crisply and always serving the truth.”

Walter joined his local paper aged 16. Yet two years later he was called up to do national service in the mines and was one of the so-called Bevin Boys.

He eventually resumed his job as a reporter and became deputy news editor and acting news editor of the Evening Gazette in Middlesbrough.

Walter married his sweetheart Doreen Troughton in October 1953.


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