Kim Fletcher has presented Walter Greenwood with the 2010 Chairman’s Award for his outstanding contribution to journalism training and education.
Bad weather had prevented Walter travelling to receive the award at the Journalism Skills Conference in Cardiff in December. Instead, he was presented with his award at a meeting of the NCTJ’s media law examinations board which he previously chaired for two terms.
Presenting the award, NCTJ Chairman Kim Fletcher said:
“My 2010 award is for a very special person who has made an outstanding contribution to journalism training and education and is a passionate advocate for professional journalism training and the NCTJ.
“Walter Greenwood is one of the longest-serving contributors to the work of the NCTJ since his first term on the north east regional committee as a youngster in the 1960s.
“He has spent most of his career working for Thomson Regional Newspapers and Trinity Mirror and as a law training consultant for Press Association Training.
“Walter was an assistant editor at Thomson Regional Newspapers when he began co-editing McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists with Tom Welsh. He and Tom edited the ‘journalists’ bible’ for 30 years.
“Walter was Chairman of the NCTJ media law board in the seventies and was persuaded to return for a second term from 2004-2006.
“We were very grateful to Walter for returning to the chairmanship for an interim period to help with the development of our media law qualifications.
“Far from playing the role of a caretaker, Walter led a complete revamp of the media law qualification to meet the real needs of the newsroom, rejecting what is outdated or does not meet the need-to-know test. It’s thanks to Walter that today we have a programme that grasps the fundamental legal challenges to publishing.”
Accepting his award Walter said:
“It is a very real honour and it is great to see the NCTJ going from strength to strength in this high tech age. It is a vastly different organisation from the one I was first associated with over 50 years ago, when there were only eight accredited courses. But now in media law as in other aspects it continues to adapt to the ever-changing demands. It is good to see it held in higher standing than ever before.”
In June 2006 Walter Greenwood handed over the chairmanship of the media law examinations board to Mark Hanna who paid tribute to Walter at the presentation:
“Walter has always been a pleasure to work with, and a natural leader. He is someone who always takes care to provide a kindly and constructive comment when pointing out something the law board, or a young journalist, may have misunderstood.
“The importance of encouraging and training young journalists has always been at the forefront of his teaching, his writing and his whole philosophy.
“He remains on the front line as regards providing legal advice to a newspaper group, and in underpinning the work of the law board in his role as (unpaid) consultant to it.
“He is held in very high esteem in UK journalism circles. He is a generous person in the highest sense of the term, and I frequently meet people who have been taught or assisted by him in their careers, and these always ask after him with great affection and respect. Walter continued as a member of law board until his retirement last year and continues to provide advice on Northern Ireland law matters to the NCTJ.”
Over the years Walter has also worked closely with Tony Johnston of Press Association Training. Tony said:
“There are few people who can proudly wear the badge of being a doyen in their field, but Walter Greenwood is more than worthy of such a description.
“He has devoted much of his career to journalism training and especially in ensuring that thousands of editorial staff do not fall foul of the law. The names of some of the people he has trained reads like a who’s who of British journalism and he keeps in touch with many of them as they progress up the career ladder. They know that if they want a straightforward answer to a legal problem, he will be there, night or day.
“His passion for journalism and in particular his constant efforts to ensure that stories do get into print, make him the friend of editors across the country.”
Tom Welsh, who co-edited 13 editions of McNae over 30 years with Walter, said:
“As an NCTJ stalwart, Walter has worked with great dedication for many years to ensure young journalists are less likely to land their papers in court and, indeed, can confidently stand up in the courtroom and challenge a dubious order. He has been described as the fount of all knowledge on court reporting restrictions.
“As a trainer since 1969, he has inspired many trainees who have gone on to achieve distinction in the media – newspapers or radio or television.
“And as joint editor of McNae’s, he has explained in terms as simple as possible the diabolical legal complexities journalists meet in their daily work and has alerted them to the constant and increasing flood of new legislation.
“Former students look back to his training sessions with great affection. He was always enthusiastic about the law, and somehow managed to make the subject both accessible and interesting. He was keen to tell students what they could get into the paper rather than what they could not. He still fields calls from many former trainees as they are about to go into court to make a challenge.
“Regarded as the ultimate safety net, many editors also call him for advice and he has saved them from many sleepless nights due to his expert legal guidance.”
The award this year is sponsored by Brooklands Hotel, a new, Art Deco-inspired, four-star spa hotel in Surrey. Walter and his wife will be treated to a stay in the ultimate super suite and spa treatments.