Award-winning journalist and former Observer editor Keith Newbery dies

Keith Newbery at his home on the Isle of Wight  Picture by Malcolm Wells
Keith Newbery at his home on the Isle of Wight Picture by Malcolm Wells

The Observer’s former editor and award-winning journalist Keith Newbery has died.

Keith, who retired in 2007, was well respected and had a huge following among readers with his weekly columns.

His no-holds-barred trenchant observations on life struck a chord with many as he railed against injustice, pettiness, and all things annoying.

Keith had been editor of the Chichester Observer series since 1992, and later also took overall editorial responsibility for its sister titles the West Sussex Gazette, Petersfield Post Series, Bognor Guardian and the Chichester Journal as executive editor.

He received an MBE for services to journalism in 2004, having spent his entire career in newspapers – starting as a junior reporter on the now defunct Isle of Wight Times in his hometown of Ryde in the mid-1960s.

He was also the founder-editor of the Isle of Wight Weekly Post and later associate editor of the The News in Portsmouth.

During his time at the Observer, the paper won two awards for circulation increases, and he oversaw the launch of the Observer Magazine.

He also successfully campaigned for a knighthood for Selsey celebrity Patrick Moore who was a close confidant of Keith’s before he died in 2012.

Keith, who won the Sports Writer of the Year title at the British Regional Press Awards a record four times, also re-lived his career in his autobiographical book of memoirs and anecdotes, ‘Hacking It’: Tales of a Very Provincial Newspaper Journalist, which was published in 2003.

The Observer’s current editor in chief Gary Shipton, who worked with Keith for many years, described him as a distinguished journalist and columnist.

“He was enormously admired, liked and respected by all who worked with him over many decades in the business.

“He will be best known for his weekly columns - which at one time included sports and tv critiques as well as his strong opinion pieces.

“The nationals tried to woo him to write for them in earlier years, but he would never forsake his beloved Isle of Wight.

“A strong and principled journalist he was a writer of enormous wit and wisdom - provoking outrage and mirth with every keystroke.”

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