45 years of words

Reporter: Karen Doherty
Date published: 26 April 2010

Tributes to outgoing Chronicle editor

OLDHAM Evening Chronicle Editor Jim Williams has retired after 45 years in the newsroom.

And he said that he was proud of his time at the paper which remained “an independent voice”.

Jim (66) joined the Chronicle as a sports reporter from the Ashton Reporter in 1965 before becoming Oldham Athletic reporter in 1968.

Those were the days when the paper had a Green Final on Saturday night, but Jim admitted that his relationship with Latics did not always run smoothly and quipped: “I had more bans than the register office.”

Promotion to news editor and deputy editor followed before Jim took over the editor’s chair in 2000, where he became notorious for acid-tounged sketches of council meetings.

His reaction to the town’s riots in 2001 gained national recognition and he said: “I am enormously proud of launching the Pride in Oldham awards. I think it came at the right time, it showed the amazing variety of Oldham’s people.

“Another thing I am proud of are my attacks on the British National Party in the newspaper for which I was described on their website as ‘lying beast Williams’. I regard that as something I should wear as a badge of honour.”

Married to Karen, Jim is father to Jane (40) and the late Adam who died of a brain tumour seven years ago aged 34.

He has a 10-year-old granddaughter and his interests include watercolour painting, running, cooking and writing.

He plans to write a book based on his adventures at the Chronicle where his maxim has always been “say it as you see it” and “readers first”.

“One of the things I have always tried to do is present Oldham in the best light,” added Jim.

“That’s not the rosiest light: it’s Oldham as it is and Oldham as it is isn’t as it should be.

“Oldham does now have a vision that will make it better, more prosperous, and a place that is at peace with itself.

Whether we will ever have that vision, put the money in, is to a certain extent up to the Government.”

Chronicle managing director Philip Hirst described how the paper had improved considerably during Jim’s editorship.

He said: “He instigated the newspaper’s very successful community awards event, Pride in Oldham, which has helped lift us out of the slough of desperation after 2001.

“He did much to repair the rift after the riots and repair the paper’s undeservedly tarnished reputation.

“In Jim we have had a fine writer and reporter, one of the best. No one who is a journalist can receive a higher accolade than that.

“I want to thank him for his complete dedication to the Chronicle. When you work in one place for over 40 years there are ups and down and Jim has never given this company less than 100 per cent.”

Deputy Council Leader Jackie Stanton was among those who attended a farewell bash for Jim on Friday.

She told him: “Thank you, not just on behalf of the council, but on behalf of everybody in Oldham because we do not realise how lucky we are to have a daily, local newspaper.”

Others present to say farewell included parliamentarians Michael Meacher and Phil Woolas, Oldham Council chief executive Charlie Parker, industry stalwart and Freeman of the borough Norman Stoller, Oldham Sixth Form College principal Nick Brown, Oldham Athletic chief executive Alan Hardy and many more, as well as current and former Chronicle staff.