Keith Parker: 'giant of regional newspaper industry'

Former editor of the Wolverhampton Express and Star Keith Parker died at the weekend after a long illness.

In a tribute piece for the Society of Editors website Geoff Elliott today described Parker as “one of the most prominent and successful regional newspapermen of his generation”.

During 17 years as editor and later as managing director, Parker built the Wolverhampton Express and Star into the biggest-selling regional daily newspaper in the country.

A 2008 Press Gazette piece about Parker said: “His was a total newspaper. His journalists went to wars, they covered major national stories, they didn’t sit glum-faced watching the PA copy stream in.

“He produced the paper through two lengthy strikes, including one over new technology that involved hundreds of pickets and police surrounding the building. It was so bad at one time that an incendiary device was placed under the car of the chairman, the late Malcolm Graham.

“But this was always because he wanted to produce the best, biggest-selling newspaper. Something his teams could have pride in so that the people of the West Midlands could have their own full-service daily newspaper.

“He campaigned on press freedom, on journalism training, helped to draft the PCC Code of Practice and was president of the Guild of British Newspapers.”

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said: “Keith was a giant of the regional newspaper industry. He led the campaigning work of the Guild of Editors as chairman of its Parliamentary and Legal Committee and as president.

“He will be remembered by many editors and journalists for his uncompromising attitude to press freedom, ready wit and good humour.”

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