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Popular Scottish journalist Joe Owens dies aged 44

3 December 2009

Paul Holleran

Popular Scottish journalist Joe Owens was found dead on the Isle of Wight (IOW) last week; he would have celebrated his 45th birthday later this month. His last written work was recently published on All Media Scotland web site and he had previously been working as a freelance and sub in a local paper on the IOW.

Joe started his working life as a coal miner and was the youngest NUM pit delegate during the historic miners' strike in 1984. After losing his job he went to Napier University to study journalism and was given an opportunity to make his mark by Andrew Clarke (now of the Guardian), who was editor of the community paper Wester Hailes Sentinel in 1988.

Within a few years Joe was appointed editor of The Northender a community paper in Springburn/Possilpark are of Glasgow, quickly establishing a campaigning publication which was seen to hold local politicians to account as well as challenging the notorious drug dealers in that part of the city.

He went on to work for a wide range of national daily papers as a casual sub before getting a contract with The Daily Record. During this period, Joe had become a leading activist with the NUJ and served as chair of both Glasgow branch and the Scottish Council.

This activity had personal implications for Joe as he met someone at the union annual conference and took everyone by surprise when he followed his heart to Kerry in South West Ireland. Quickly establishing himself as a senior sub and FoC at the Cork Examiner, Joe became as popular in that part of Ireland as he had in Scotland.

All good things come to an end and Joe returned to Glasgow and again worked as a casual at The Daily Record before being appointed as a chief reporter at the Highland News in Inverness. After a bout of bad health, Joe moved to warmer climes of Valencia as news editor of an English language web site covering Spanish national news.

Unfortunately what appeared to be a quality product ran into cash flow difficulties and closed within a short period. Joe then moved to a post at The County newspaper on the Isle of Wight and had recently been doing some freelance and PR work on the island and beyond.

Joe Owens was a working class intellectual, well-read and could argue politics 'til the cows came home but still be full of fun. He was a talented journalist both as a writer and sub, a great trade unionist and socialist and my best friend and will be sorely missed by his son Patrick and his family and vast number of friends and colleagues.

Tags: , all media scotland, isle of wight, scotland, num, miners' strike, guardian, wester hailes sentinel, the northender, glasgow, daily record, glasgow branch, kerry, ireland, examiner, highland news, inverness, websites, the county, freelance, pr