Monday 17 August 2009

Farewell to BoS founder Frank Branston

Sad news today that Fank Branston, founder of Bedfordshire on Sunday, has died suddenly aged 70.
I interviewed Frank many times. He loved journalism and making mischief.
Once when he and a group of journalists were invited to cover the speeches at a dinner, but offered no meal, he sent out for a takeaway curry for all the reporters - had a picture taken and sent it to Press Gazette.
He always gave good quotes. Like when Beds on Sunday launched onto the internet. Frank said: "I think the internet is over-rated. It is just a day out for nerds and anoraks."
Or one of his famous job ads: "In the old days junior reporters were bought up the hard way; being run from pillar to post and being saddled with the menial jobs. They proved themselves by taking it on the chin, keeping their eyes and ears open and grabbing their chances. Now they are expected to have A-levels and to spend half their time at colleges, where failed journalists try to teach a job that is best learned on the street. Bedfordshire on Sunday prefers it the old way."
The success of Beds on Sunday was a matter of great pride to Frank, a provincial journalist of the year, having worked on the Bedfordshire Times.
Frank employed an ex-policeman, Fred Plester, as a reporter who won a string of awards for his exclusive stories. Legend had it that before switching to journalism Fred had once arrested Frank for trying to take a picture within the precinct of a court. Frank claimed Fred put more people in jail via BoS than Bedfordshire CID.
BoS launched in 1977 with a budget of only £9,000. On its 30th anniversary Frank said: "We survived because we produced a newspaper which was different in content to the other four that were then being published in Bedford; a newspaper which, no matter how slapdash its production, still told its readers news they did not get elsewhere. "
Frank sold the BoS group in 2005 for millions and went on to be the elected Mayor of Bedford.
A wonderful character.
Tributes to Frank on Bedfordshire on Sunday website.

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