Nigel Clark: Financial Times journalist and union FoC

Nigel Clark, senior producer on FT.com and head of the National Union of Journalists’ branch at the Financial Times, has died at the age of 55.

In 18 years at the FT, Nigel exemplified the evolution in journalism over that period. He was the most traditional of newspaper editors, but also a pioneer in the FT’s move online, determined at all times that the same standards of quality should be upheld in every manifestation of FT journalism.

The fusion of those talents was most evident on September 11, 2001, when Nigel wrote, and rewrote, for FT.com’s home page, the unfolding story of the terrorist attacks in the US.

With his linguistic precision, Nigel knew that the eye of a storm was a calm place and he fulfilled that role to perfection. He quietly and swiftly sifted what was known – and what was not known – and updated the story time and again.

His attention to detail was legendary. His commitment to serving the FT’s business reader was unsurpassed. He expended much energy in reproducing online the newspaper’s dividend table, which delivers company results at a glance each day.

Nigel’s career was grounded in 11 years as a senior sub-editor on the UK companies desk. But it gained new verve when, at 48, he became only the third member of the nascent FT.com editorial team. He seemed to get younger by the month, acting as mentor – and patient and enthusiastic transmitter of FT values – to many recruits.

Nigel was elected father of the paper’s NUJ chapel (office branch) in 2000. As FoC, Nigel used his deeprooted commitment to the principles of trade unionism and socialism to represent the FT chapel as a whole as well as individual members.

Those who benefited from his friendship and support in personal or NUJ matters were struck by his selflessness.

He seemed embarrassed to be thanked, shrugging his shoulders: “No need. That’s what we’re here for.”

Nigel attended Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Wakefield and Middlesbrough High School before spending four years as a trainee accountant with Middlesbrough and Teesside County Borough Councils.

He trained as a reporter with the Billingham and Stockton Express and the Mail in Hartlepool. After working as a reporter for the Morning Telegraph in Sheffield, he earned an honours degree in economics at University College Cardiff.

He joined the FT in 1985 after working as a business sub-editor at the Yorkshire Post and as managing editor of ECC Publications.

Twenty years in the South made no dent in his Yorkshire accent, world view or humour. He’d tell a friend: “There’s only thee and me who think right… and I’m not too sure about thee.” His traditional Labour views were expressed in two decades of active membership of his local party in St Albans.

With eternal optimism, Nigel supported Middlesbrough Football Club, but affected to pay no attention to Boro’s results until the cricket season was over. This cut at least a month from each year’s encounter with disappointment. He is survived by his widow Maggie and daughter Alison.

Clay Harris© Financial Ti

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