Devil in detail for former News journalist Duggie

Duggie Middleton, right, with writer Graham Law. Picture: TSPL
Duggie Middleton, right, with writer Graham Law. Picture: TSPL
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Hamish Coghill remembers former Evening News journalist Duggie Middleton, who died suddenly on Sunday aged 71.

There are many journalists working in Scotland and elsewhere who owe a great debt of gratitude to Douglas.

For those who went through the journalism course at Napier University he was a highly respected and caring lecturer, passing on his deep knowledge to young men and women who have gone into many journalistic avenues.

He insisted on high standards in his lecture room, accuracy above all, and his dedication set an example to all his students.

It was the work ethic which he had taken from the Evening News where for many years he was news editor, and his reporters knew that they had to be on their mettle on every task they were set.

Duggie, as he was known to all, would not allow sloppiness or half-baked pieces of writing to get into the paper, and he would always take time to take a reporter aside to explain what was wrong with a story and why it needed re-writing.

In the fast-flowing days of the 70s and 80s when the Evening News produced several editions a day and the constant pressure was on, he was a steadying hand in the newsroom where his larger-than-life personality was ideally suited to cope with such demands.

One of the major stories he supervised was the coverage of the Lockerbie disaster which required not only news skills but a particularly sensitive handling of his team.

But amidst the bustle of the newsroom, when Duggie was about there was always laughter. “Newspapers should be fun” was the dictum he held, and after a hectic working day during which there would often be lighter moments, unwinding in the Fleshmarket Close pubs with colleagues, Duggie would be at the centre of the fun as the jokes flew and the day’s efforts were dissected.

Duggie joined the Evening News as a copy boy from George Heriot’s School and after a spell as a reporter he transferred to The Scotsman before returning to the Evening News as deputy news editor.

He left the paper and went to his very successful career at Napier University, seeing the first batch of journalism students through the introduction of a degree course.

After his retirement from the university, he continued to work for Scotland on Sunday as a sub-editor.

He retained a close association with his old school, and was a well-kent figure in Heriot’s FP Rugby Club circles, playing for the club and going on to write its official history.

A devoted family man, he and his wife Jackie revelled in their boys, Chris, Richard and Michael, and then in their grandchildren – Max, Frankie Drew and Edward.

Duggie’s funeral is private, but there is to be a celebration of his life at Heriot’s FP club at 4pm on Monday.