Veteran journalist Bill Jamieson’s death leaves a void in the industry, writes TERRY MURDEN
Perhaps the best tribute that can be paid to Scottish journalist Bill Jamieson, who has died aged 75, is that his passing, like that of Harold Evans in the summer, leaves the industry so much poorer.
If journalism is about recording and interpreting the world around us, good journalism turns that process into a force for change. His contribution to The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday reached beyond the routine of newspaper commentary into wider political debate.
Bill drew on an encyclopaedic memory bank and employed forensic research to give meaning to the flow of policy papers and documents that fed his curiosity. His thoughts were sought out by those who needed a greater understanding of economic, financial and political events and would often feel inspired to act accordingly.
I was privileged to have worked with him between 2003 and 2014, first as Business Editor at Scotland on Sunday and later at The Scotsman when the business desks merged (2009).
As one of the senior executives, he interviewed me for both jobs and while his reputation on the national stage was formidable he never pulled rank. Even in an industry that is no stranger to a robust and in-your-face management style he always deferred to my judgement. Indeed, such was his generosity and humility that he would frequently compliment a member of the team for a job well done. In turn he earned a respect that went beyond his writing.
Each week he would offer three suggestions for his column and I would gladly have published them all. Given his ability to process his thoughts quickly and turn them into compelling copy it would have been no surprise if he had produced all three overnight.
Beyond the written word and his regular appearances on television and radio where he often shared air time with sparring partner Alf Young of The Herald, Bill was tremendously good company. He always had something interesting to say and, of equal value, was keen to hear the opinions of others. He was also warm and good-humoured; so much so that I can barely recall a conversation that was not interrupted by his infectious smile and laughter.
Among the many tributes, some have referred to him as “old school”. Yes, but not old-fashioned. He may have been an examplar of the old ways, but in his later years he embraced the new digital news platforms, launching ScotBuzz, a website dedicated to SMEs.
However, newspapers were his calling and the old cliche of ink running through his veins was probably true in his case. He was the sort of journalist and character that every newsroom needs and who will be sorely missed by all who knew and worked with him.
Bill Jamieson, journalist, author and public speaker, born 1945, died 2020