Herald publishes appreciation of former executive editor, Anderson

THE Herald has published an appreciation of Ronnie Anderson, who was a former executive editor of the newspaper, and died last month, aged 73.

The appreciation reads: “Ronnie Anderson was a senior editorial figure with The Herald during an era of exceptional success for Scotland’s newspaper industry.

“It was no accident that his contribution to the paper from the mid-1970s until the late 1990s coincided with an era which his generation of newspaper journalists now regards as a golden age.

“His journalism was learned the traditional way, starting as a copy boy in the 1950s before becoming a young reporter with the Scottish Farmer. From there he moved to the Bulletin, which was a tabloid sister of the Glasgow Herald, and then to the Evening Citizen, where he wrote the diary and sub-edited features.

“In 1974, the Beaverbrook Empire’s outpost in Glasgow retreated to Manchester, where Ronnie worked for a spell while earning a reputation as an outstanding production journalist. This made him an attractive proposition for The Herald, which was then being energised by a new and dashing young editor, Iain Lindsay-Smith.

“Before long, Ronnie was responsible for managing a team of investigative journalists at a time when awards were showered on the paper. When Arnold Kemp became editor, Ronnie was appointed to a series of senior production posts, eventually becoming the long-serving executive editor.

“Over the years, he built up a network of authoritative super-stringers from Moscow to Washington and from Johannesburg to Paris and the Middle East who provided Herald readers with an unrivalled foreign news and feature service.

“Close colleagues of Ronnie found that, although he was a private man and worked at being inconspicuous, he was famously good with people and the very man for a crisis with his unflappable presence and a dry wit. Somehow he always seemed to be at the centre of editorial life, a playmaker in editorial conferences where his opinions carried strong influence.

“His great dependability was most obvious in times of heaviest pressure when deadlines were approaching. He had the ability to sub-edit copy so that even the most precious writer found it difficult to spot the change. That was a talent, not just a mere skill.

“In 1959, Ronnie married his sweetheart, Margaret, from King’s Park school in Glasgow and they had one child, a daughter, Rona. But their strong and happy marriage ended tragically with Margaret’s sudden death 13 years ago. This was a crushing loss even for such a resilient character. At that time he turned to working long hours as a means of escape and then later in life he met Diana, who became a soul mate.

“It was typical of Ronnie that he retired without forewarning anyone except the editor – he wanted no fussy farewell – and he took off to pursue his interests in travel and golf. He became a victim of leukaemia and put up a valiant fight against the illness. When he died, aged 73, his death notice in his old paper said he had been ‘belligerent to the end’ – and it’s not hard to imagine his defiance.

“Ronnie affected his family, colleagues and friends in so many good ways that those happy memories he gave us will be with us for ever.”