Freddie Johnston is to retire next month after 51 years on the board of Johnston Press.
It will be the first time in 243 years that there has not been a family member on the board of the company, the Sunday Times reports.
This correspondent recalls meeting Freddy Johnston when he was a reporter on the Johnston Press-owned Battle Observer. Johnston made a habit of visiting every member of staff at the company each year, saying hello and shaking them by the hand.
He had a colleague with him carrying a big leather bag, I recall, which we hacks speculated was full of cash. Back in the late 90s/early Naughties Johnston Press’ profit margins were approaching 40 per cent – very little of which filtered down to the reporters. NCTJ qualified graduates started on less than £8,000 a year.
Nowadays Johnston Press has deep problems financially, shackled by the huge cost of a buying spree which led to it becoming the UK’s second biggest regional newspaper publisher. More on this on Peter Kirwan’s Media Money blog.