Very sad to read of Peter’s death over the weekend. Thousands of words have since been written about the former Guardian editor, but I thought I would add a few more.
I can’t claim to have known Peter well, but he was a regular contributor to InPublishing. Him graciously agreeing to write an article for our second issue back in 2004 was one of those punch-the-air moments. For someone of his stature to agree to write for us, so early on, was thrilling. Peter went on to write eighteen articles for us over the years, most recently for our Nov/Dec issue.
He never turned me down, was thoughtful and polite when interpreting / improving my article ideas, always submitted his copy early and always to the right wordcount and his articles were unfailingly articulate, insightful and highly readable.
Reading Peter’s obituaries, certain things leap out. Firstly, and this I can vouch for, he loved writing. He loved the whole business of newspapers – all aspects; he got stuck in and learned first-hand about design and production. He was a disruptor; when he took over something, continuity was never an option: he shook things up, constantly looking to innovate. He was brave and determined; when he got the bit between his teeth, he forced through redesigns and radical change. He was a visionary, introducing new sections, designs and formats.
Alan Rusbridger wrote of his predecessor: “He combined great integrity, a stubborn toughness and a decent humanity with real strategic vision. The paper owes him an immense debt.”
Political columnist Michael White said: “Quick and clever, with a warm, mischievous sense of humour, Peter loved print and never lost faith in the future of newspapers.”
Peter was a giant of the newspaper world, respected at home and abroad. He will be missed.