View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Archive content
July 27, 2006updated 22 Nov 2022 8:22pm

Ivor Smullen

By Press Gazette

Ivor Smullen, who has died at the age of 78, was a news and feature editor’s dream – a freelance with a supply of tips, ideas and stories that was inexhaustible right to the end, when he was still filing pieces from his hospital bed.

One of journalism’s unsung foot soldiers without whom newspapers cannot survive, Ivor ran a punishing sevendays- a-week, one-man operation, sending his “smullens” – typed on small slips of paper – to grateful newsrooms and periodicals, local, national and international, from the Sunday Express and Daily Telegraph to BBC History Magazines and the San Francisco Chronicle, helped by an uncanny nose for a good story.

Born and educated in Manchester, he worked as a reporter in Hong Kong, where he met his wife Rita, returning to Britain to work on papers in Nottingham and Hull, and then as a staffer on Weekend and Tit-Bits in the capital in the 1960s.

In the early 1970s, he and Rita moved to Leeds, where he set up his freelance agency in a cramped first-floor bedroom/office, becoming – and staying – an unmatchably prolific feature writer and ideas man.

During my time as a reporter and on the newsdesk with the Sunday Express in Manchester from the 1970s to the 1990s, I always looked forward to hearing his deceptively tentative voice, because it invariably meant a story idea that would have me salivating, suggested – never pitched – with his characteristic dry understatement.

However, I will remember Ivor as more than a superb journalist. He was the best companion in the world to share a pint and a laugh with.

With his fastidious shorthand and old-fashioned manual typewriter – and gentlemanliness – Ivor was a throwback, but always eager to go forward in new directions.

Content from our partners
Pugpig named best media technology partner of 2024 by AOP
Cannes Lions: The world's best creativity all in one place
L'Equipe signs content syndication deal with The Content Exchange

Recently, diabetes drained his energy, so he ignored it, taking on new jobs. His widow and their daughter, Kin, have lost a loving husband and father. Journalism has lost a dedicated practitioner and I have lost an irreplaceable friend.

Brian Duffy

Email to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network