Wednesday, April 22, 2015

VALE - Dick James (April 2015)

VALE Dick James – Rural Journalist

In 2010, Rural Media SA inducted Dick James as a Rural Media Icon.

Dick James died recently after failing to recover from a heart operation. He was 77 years old. He was one of the ‘old school’ scribes. He was proudly a rural journalist for most of his working life. He was still on the books at the Stock Journal up to his death.

Dick started at what is now the Stock Journal on January 4th 1954. At that time, the publication was known as the Adelaide Stock & Station Journal. He worked in the classified and auction advertisement section for a short time, prior to taking on a role of assisting the advertising manager in the display advertisement dept.

Just prior to Dick’s seventeenth birthday, the advertising manager took two weeks annual leave and Dick was given the responsibility of handling his work during his absence. It wasn't long before Dick was invited to start his career in rural journalism as a cadet. Three years later, they gave Dick the title of Field Representative and at age 24, he was handed his first managerial role as assistant editor - in 1964.

Dick was appointed editor of the Stock Journal in 1976 and was managing editor from 1985-1987 …when in Dick’s words ‘I was shown the door’ …but five months later he was invited back to the Stock Journal to take over as livestock editor on a contract basis. Dick relinquished that role in late 2001 to provide an opportunity to a younger journalist.

Dick remained a working journalist until his so called retirement in July 2003, but continued to be on the Stock Journal’s books as a casual journalist until a week before his death. Dick reckoned RMSA was hard up in 2003, following his so-called retirement, when we offered to lightly roast him at a dinner in his honour. He felt his topic could have been anything from …’I almost made a half ton’ to ‘Bastards I have met’. Dick was like that.

RMSA definitely wasn’t hard up for guest speakers. We believed as one of the last of the rural scribes of his era, we should give Dick a gentle ‘roast’ and hear some of his thoughts on his years in the business - and also recognize his lifelong contribution to rural journalism in SA. Dick was part of the rural newspaper business in South Australia from hot metal to Microsoft …and he reported on some of the most interesting and controversial rural stories in SA over that time.

His specialist field towards the end of his career was the livestock industry and he’s had a close working relationship with many of South Australia’s breed societies. Because of Dick’s obvious specialisation in livestock reporting as a rural journalist, he judged both stud and commercial stock over the years, as well as opening several of the major stud sales in SA.

Dick also served as Executive Officer of Merinos SA for a number of years.

Dick enjoyed his sport. He was proud of the fact that at his three chosen sports - football, cricket and lawn bowls - he was able to reach A grade standard - football with North Adelaide, cricket with Walkerville and lawn bowls with Lockleys.

Dick is survived by his wife Wendy and their two sons - Anthony and Matthew.

Dick James’s remarkable rural journalism career spanned 60 years. VALE Dick James.