Obituary: Freelance journalist James Goodrick

For copytakers and newsdesks throughout the country, ‘Goodrick of Hull”, freelance journalist James Goodrick who died on 27 December at the age of 91, was the by-word for truthful, factual and accurate reporting.

Reporting from what was the biggest fishing port in the country, he not only ensured the nation knew the price of fish – he supplied the national press with the fish market prices for 70 years – but also the other costs from trawler tragedies to Cod Wars in what has always been a dangerous industry.

If a story didn’t ‘stand up”, James Goodrick wouldn’t do it. Broadsheet and broadcaster newsdesks might rejoice in his prompt and accurate service – but tabloid news editors could tear their hair out in the face of his obduracy.

Born in Hull on 15 January 1917 he was brought up in the heart of the fishing community and attended Hull Grammar School. He left school at the age of 14 to work in his father’s newspaper business.

His career path was that of a complete newspaperman, starting as a messenger boy then graduating through office boy to compositor, operating linotype machines and making up pages, and sub-editor.

After meeting his future wife, Annie Windsor, at a garden party, he moved to a weekly newspaper in Bilston. James then gained his experience of freelancing with the Caters News Agency at Birmingham before he and Annie married in 1938 and returned to Hull where he rejoined the family business as a reporter on the Haltemprice Echo, Hull Advertiser and Sentinel.

In 1946, with a notebook, bike, secondhand camera and typewriter he set up as a freelance journalist. Every newsdesk in the years to come would have a “Goodrick of Hull” anecdote to relate.

Typical was the urgent round robin from a national daily for ‘half a stick'(several paragraphs) for a page-leading weather story. James sent one word “raining’– which made the front page after an initially disbelieving news editor had been convinced it was all that could be said about the weather in Hull.

In the early days of regional TV, James Goodrick became one of the BBC’s first local correspondents and was often seen doing outside broadcasts and interviews. He was a regular fixture at local and general elections, getting a bonus on top of his fee for getting the 1997 results to ITN first and covering his last general election in 2001 when, at 84, he was still up front at Hull Guildhall well past midnight, phoning through the results.

Failing eyesight gradually prevented James from seeing the computer screen and eventually the written word. He stopped contributing to newspapers in 2004.

Annie Goodrick died in 1999 and James is survived by Howard, the second of his four children, eight grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. His funeral will be held in Kirkella tomorrow.

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