Jimmy McGuire - Former reporter with the Press Association

At the
time when journalism was still regarded as an honourable trade, there
were some good reporters, there were a few great reporters, and there
was Jimmy McGuire.

For more than 20 years during his time with
the Press Association, the definition of a big story was if McGuire was
present. The son of a miner, McGuire was brought up in Hamilton but
when he left school, at 14, his first job was in a wartime munitions
factory.

As soon as he was able, McGuire joined the Hamilton Advertiser, where he spent the next few years learning his trade.

In
1949, he joined the Evening News in Glasgow, one of the three evening
papers in the city at the time. After eight years, he was approached by
the Press Association to set up its news gathering operation in
Scotland.

McGuire may never have worked for The Guardian, the
BBC, The Times, or The Herald, but he wrote for them all and they
trusted every word.

Mcguire joined PA in 1957 and for the next 17 years was their chief and, indeed, only Scottish correspondent.

During
that time he covered every major story north of the border. He attended
murder trials and mining disasters as well as political conferences of
every persuasion.

Royal tours, state visits and a catalogue of
tragedies from Kilbirnie Street to Clarkston from Ibrox to Cheapside,
Mcguire recorded them all. His work rate was phenomenal, criss-crossing
Scotland and racking up 20,000 miles a year in the process. And he was
prepared to suffer for a good story.

When typhoid struck the city
of Aberdeen, McGuire got himself quarantined for three weeks so that he
could cover the story first hand.

His output could be staggering.

During
the Glasgow High Court trial of the notorious murderer Peter Manuel, he
was part of a three-man team that put out 15,000 words a day.

It
would be a mistake, however, to judge McGuire’s contribution by mere
numbers. It was the unadorned, plain quality of it that made it stand
out.

As a down-to-earth, honest-to-goodness reporter, it was
JimmyMcGuire covering any major event who had his story finished and
filed in plain, simple prose while the clever wordsmiths and colour
writers were still searching for their first sentence.

There was
an air of unflappable competence about him, which is why his sobriquet
of “faither” never seemed misplaced, even when it came from people
several years his senior.

During those 20 years, there were a couple of occasions on which he made the news instead of reporting it.

The
first was in 1967, when he was awarded the MBE, the second was 10 years
later when the Scottish Arts Council presented him with the Munro Award
for outstanding services to journalism.

Named after Neil Munro,
newspaper editor and novelist, it had only previously been won by
creative writers such as Jack House and Ian Archer. If anything, it was
the later prize that gave him the greater pride and satisfaction since
he felt it was recognition, not only for him, but for the scores of
other unsung reporters who are the lifeblood of any newspaper. Those
same unsung reporters could think of no-one who deserved it more.

In
1978, McGuire made the transition from poacher to gamekeeper when he
joined the South of Scotland Electricity Board as a public relations
officer. He would have been appalled to be regarded in the same light
as the modern spin doctor since he brought the standards of fairness,
accuracy and integrity that were his hallmark as a reporter, to the
SSEB’s dealings with customers, staff and other power generators all
over Europe.

His time with the board was brought to a premature
conclusion because of mobility problems posed by the onset of a form of
multiple sclerosis.

But it was his job that defined the man. There was an occasion when he made it home in time to watch News at Ten with his wife.

“Isn’t that Peter Sissons reading the news?” she inquired innocently. “I thought he was only a reporter.”

He claimed jokingly never to have fully forgiven that remark.

In
hindsight, he would probably have regarded it as a fitting epitaph,
but, in truth, Jimmy McGuire was never only a reporter, he was the
reporter.

McGuire, who was 78,is survived by Connie, his wife of 53 years, two daughters and five grandchildren.

Colin McDiarmid

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