Friday, July 07, 2006

Scotsman Reporter and a great friend receives an OBE at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh.

Taking a break from reporting on the viles of society, today, I would like to congratulate a great family friend and one of the best reporters I have ever met, Mr William Chisholm, Borders Reporter for the Scotsman Newspaper for over 30 years, for his award of an OBE from Her Majesty the Queen at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh.

Link to the awards ceremony here, from "The Scotsman" newspaper :

For more than 30 years, William Chisholm has memorably covered both national and regional issues in Scotland, and also reported on my own experiences with the legal profession, as of course, I lived in Jedburgh, a small town in the Scottish Borders for many years.

Great to see Bill's services recognised and rewarded. His contribution to both Scotland and the Scottish Borders has led to many important issues, of regional and national importance reaching the news which would have otherwise gone unreported.

All the best to Bill and his family for the future !

A link to an article in the Scottish Borders weekly newspaper, 'The Southern Reporter', follows, reporting on a retirement ceremony for Bill last December.

Bill calls it a day by making the news
Andrew Keddie

THE career of one of the Borders most prolific and respected journalists was acknowledged by Scottish Borders Council last week.

In an informal ceremony at Newtown St Boswells, Bill Chisholm, who has retired after 36 years as the Borders correspondent of The Scotsman, was presented with a bronze casting of the famous Reiver monument by SBC convener Alasdair Hutton.

It was, said Mr Hutton, a fitting tribute for the sterling service Mr Chisholm had given to the Borders public.In reply, Mr Chisholm said local government and the press had changed a lot.

"Back in 1969 it was difficult to get information from the county councils because all committees, except education, met in private. Now journalists are bombarded with press releases and spin from public agencies and perhaps, as a result, many have adopted lazy habits."

There was still, he said, a need for investigative journalism to make sure wrongdoers were brought to book.

The gathering of councillors, officials and media colleagues erupted in laughter when he added: "I am one of the few journalists who has worked for a quality broadsheet and a sleazy tabloid – without having to change jobs."Bill Chisholm was born in Berwick and educated at the local grammar school.

He developed a strong interest in writing but says he was was not "academically talented".

"So when I saw an advert in the Berwickshire News for a trainee reporter at the Smith freelance news agency in Berwick I jumped at the chance."

He recalls that his writing test before getting the job was to compile a report on a match between his beloved Berwick Rangers and Queens Park.

"The match finished 4-4 so there was plenty to write about."

The 16-year-old was taught the rudiments of his profession by the late Dave Smith, whose son Ian now runs the business.

"It was here the need to stick to the facts and be fair and balanced was drummed into me. In those days you served the equivalent of a journalistic apprenticeship, picking up the tools of the trade from your seniors. Now it's all about university degrees rather than practical experience."

After three years at Smith's, he left in 1964 to fill a vacancy at the Berwick Advertiser, a Tweeddale Press title, where the variety of assignments would stand him in good stead for the future.

"My mentor was Tony Langmack, who still works with the paper though long past retirement age, and he was, and is, an excellent journalist."

In 1967, he was moved to the Kelso Chronicle, but had been there just three months when a vacancy at The Scotsman was advertised.

He started at the North Bridge newsroom on May 1, 1967.

One of his first "jobs" was to take shorthand notes over a very bad telephone line from legendary sports writer John Rafferty as he covered Celtic's European Cup triumph in Lisbon. He then read out John's stuff to a copytaker who typed it up for the subs.

Bill met his wife Carol, who worked in advertising for the Edinburgh Evening News, in 1968 and only weeks from their wedding day on March 8, 1969, he was summoned to the office of Scotsman editor Alastair Dunnett and offered the post of Borders correspondent.

"The wedding went ahead as planned on the Saturday and 48 hours later I was covering the public inquiry into the proposed Tweedbank development in the Waverley Castle Hotel, Melrose," he recalled this week.

The Chisholms set up home, which included Bill's new office, in Jedburgh and the rest, as they say, is history.

Among his many notable journalistic efforts before a retirement hastened by ill-health, Mr Chisholm cites the sale of the Scottish Special Housing Association stock of houses to Waverley.

"The sale would have passed almost unnoticed without interference from inquisitive reporters. We were able to discover that some of the houses in Galashiels had been sold for £1 each and this led to a National Audit Office enquiry and questions were asked in the House of Commons."

And his assessment of today's crop of national newspapers? "I would say too many daily and Sunday papers spend almost all their time pursuing their own narrow agendas while, at the same time, ramming their views down the throats of readers.
"It's left to good weekly papers like The Southern Reporter to set out the facts for the public without fear or favour. Long may that continue."

22 December 2005


lorraine said...

great blog. has inspired me to take on lawyers as well.
keep up the good work !

Anonymous said...

I missed this one.Nice to see you give credit where its due.
Bill Chisholm was a damn find reporter on the regional staff when the Scotsman actually used to report on Scotland.