Scots journalist found dead

A SCOTTISH journalist who has been contributing recently to has been found dead.

Joe Owens was just a few days away from celebrating his 45th birthday, on the Isle of Wight, where he had been living recently. It’s not known the cause of death. Since the relaunch of allmediascotland, he had penned two book reviews and only last week had agreed the delivery of two more titles to review.

A former chair of the National Union of Journalists’ Scottish Council, he was working as a freelance and sub-editor on the island.

Says Paul Holleran, the NUJ’s Scottish Organiser: “Joe Owens was a working-class intellectual, well-read and could argue politics ’til the cows came home’ but still be full of fun.

“He was a talented journalist, both as a writer and sub, a great trade unionist and socialist and my best friend and will be sorely missed by his son, Patrick, and his family and vast number of friends and colleagues.”

Writes Paul: “Joe started his working life as a coal miner and was the youngest NUM pit delegate during the historic miners’ strike in 1984. After losing his job, he went to Napier University to study journalism and was given an opportunity to make his mark in 1988, by Andrew Clarke (now at the Guardian) who was editor of the community paper, the Wester Hailes Sentinel.

“Within a few years, he was appointed editor of The Northender, a community paper in Springburn/Possilpark [in Glasgow], establishing a campaigning publication which was seen to hold local politicians to account as well as challenging the notorious drug dealers in that part of the city.

“He went on to work for a wide range of daily papers as a casual sub before getting a contract with the Daily Record. During this period, Joe had become a leading activist with the NUJ and served as chair of both Glasgow branch and the Scottish Council.

“This activity had personal implications for Joe as he met someone at the union’s annual conference and took everyone by surprise when he followed his heart to Kerry in South West Ireland. Quickly establishing himself as a senior sub and Father of Chapel at the Cork Examiner, Joe became as popular in that part of Ireland as he had in Scotland.

“All good things come to an end, and Joe returned to Glasgow and worked as a casual at the Record before being appointed as a chief reporter at the Highland News in Inverness. After a bout of bad health, he moved to the warmer climes of Valencia as news editor of an English-language website covering Spanish national news.

“Unfortunately, what appeared to be a quality product ran into cash flow difficulties and closed within a short period. Joe then moved to a post at the County Press newspaper on the Isle of Wight and had recently been doing some freelance and PR work on the island and beyond.”

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.