Thu, 20 June, 2024

Alistair Browning

Posted: February 1st, 2024

Alexander Cameron Browning, always known as Alistair, a former news sub-editor at the Daily Record and Sunday Mail, died at his home in Newton Mearns, Glasgow on January 19 [2024] aged 88. He had been suffering from cancer.

His daughter Joanne told us: “Dad started his career on the Daily Express where he developed his ‘supersonic mode’, and then sprinted his way to the Daily Record and Sunday Mail in 1951. Spending many happy years there, he progressed to news sub-editor before he called it a day by accepting the offer from the then publisher Robert Maxwell to take early retirement in July 1990. And Dad headed off to sunny Spain with his wife. He was famous for catchphrases such as ‘Pffffft, Zog and Pinto’. Alistair was made a life member of the National Union of Journalists. There is no funeral as dad chose a direct cremation and did not want any fuss, so we are holding a celebration of dad’s life at mum’s care home in conjunction with her birthday. I have made up memory boards for my dad with photos, articles, etc starting from him as a boy, joining the RAF as part of his national service, being a husband, standing as a Liberal candidate in Giffnock, being a journalist, walking the West Highland Way (the whole length with David Robertson and other chums) and finally his life in Spain. He leaves wife Mary, myself, and son Roger.”

From former SDR&SM news editor and AMP committee member Malcom Speed: “Alastair Browning served as an NUJ FoC at SDR&SM, and as a committee member during the bitter 1986 strike which followed the anouncement of Robert Maxwell’s “survival plans” for the Scottish titles. Those turbulent times saw the Daily Record and Sunday Mail off the streets for a month. The Maxwell plans were ultimately abandoned but the ill-feeling lingered.

“Alistair, who was initially a reporter, was at the Record for almost 40 years. He was involved in the long battle to widen the circulation appeal and have the paper recognised as a pan-Scottish title.

“He was tall and spoke precisely. He could well be imagined as a spectacles-wearing clergyman, offering witty but acid observations. It was also always the preferred ‘Alistair’, with colleagues making only the the occasional slip to ‘Al’.

“He was a senior reporter and doing stand-in news desk shifts when I arrived at the Daily Record in 1966. He was recognised as a safe pair of hands on the news desk, but took the career decision to become a news sub-editor. This was recognised as a loss to the news desk team.

“Alistair was FoC of a powerful Chapel at a time when one executive was allowed to remain at a desk during meetings. In worsening times, the Chapel decided all desk head members would attend, and, along with colleagues, I followed the mandate. To my surprise Alistair gave me special permission to remain at the news desk. He said, apologetically, that the reporters felt ‘uncomfortable’ with the news editor looking at them during their participation in Chapel debates.

“The 1988 redundancy deal stretched into 1990 and Alistair decided to leave the Daily Record, the paper he had served so well for so long. Condolences to his family.”

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