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Tributes to former Ham&High journalist, 75

PUBLISHED: 10:40 21 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:42 07 September 2010

Martin Jackson

Martin Jackson

A SHOWBIZ journalist who began his career at the Ham&High and worked towards bringing peace to the Middle East has died. Martin Jackson, 75, died on December 28 – almost 60 years to the day since starting his first job as a journalist where hi

Tan Parsons

A SHOWBIZ journalist who began his career at the Ham&High and worked towards bringing peace to the Middle East has died.

Martin Jackson, 75, died on December 28 - almost 60 years to the day since starting his first job as a journalist where his salary was 27 shillings a week plus free bicycle clips.

After six years at the Ham&High, he went on to become radio and television editor at the Daily Express and later the Daily Mail.

One of his favourite scoops was securing a photo of Angela Rippon's legs at a rehearsal of the Morecambe and Wise Show. It featured on the front page and the BBC was not amused.

Interested in more than just showbiz tittle-tattle, he investigated other aspects of the TV and film industries, including the political and economic dimensions.

He later led the consortium which captured the southern area franchise for Television South.

He moved on to edit and relaunch Broadcast magazine and subsequently became publisher of the International Thomson Media Group, which included Broadcast, Screen International and TV World.

With a keen sense of history, he was an active supporter of the United Nations Association.

In his last weeks, he was responsible for the creation of the first UN prayer for peace and was seeking to bring together Christian, Jewish and Muslim representatives to debate his plan to name Jerusalem as a World City.

His daughter Rebekah said: "He was incredibly clever and had so many sides to him.

"But you would never have known because he always played it down - he was very self-deprecating.

"He was actually so much more than a journalist. He was also working to try to bring about peace in the Middle East and there aren't that many journalists who do that.

"He was just incredibly kind. He would always help people. Hundreds of people have written to us - young journalists and television executives who are now quite senior, who he helped in their careers."

Although he had enjoyed a distinguished career as a journalist, it did not take him long to make an impression in the business.

When watching the Ham&High being put to bed in his very first week, he picked up the filler paragraph he had written about the opening of a club for African students and dropped it in a small gap on the front page which was proving difficult to fill.

All the print workers promptly downed tools, put on their jackets and left the building. The editor gave the young man a fiver, called him an idiot and ordered him to buy each of them a drink and apologise to them individually for not being a member of the London Society of Compositors.

Born Martin Fishbein, the son of immigrant Jewish musicians from Poland, his mother changed their surname to guard against prejudice as they sought work. Jackson was chosen randomly by throwing a telephone directory in the air and seeing which page it landed on.

Mr Jackson, who lived in Hawkhurst, Kent, grew up in Willesden Green and, after failing his 11-plus exam, he went to a tough north London secondary school. While many of his peers wanted jobs as railway workers, he had always wanted to be a journalist after seeing James Stewart in the film Call Northside 777.

He leaves behind his wife Maureen, whom he married in 1968, three daughters, a beloved grandson and another on the way.


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