May I add my tribute to John Docherty, former chief reporter of the Hampshire Chronicle, who died in September. 

I was editor of the Hampshire Chronicle from 1996 to 2004 and John was one of the many dedicated staff who ensured the paper continued in its 250-year-old mission of serving the people of Hampshire through diligent and sensitive reporting. 

He was chief reporter and I know many of the younger reporters who came up through the ranks owe much to him sharing freely his many years of experience in the industry. 

He also gave a voice to many readers who found themselves at the mercy of over zealous government officials or bullying tradesmen, fighting their corner and ensuring that they had a friend in their battle for justice. He had served his fellow colleagues on the Chronicle by taking on the role of Father of the Chapel for the National Union of Journalists and that title seemed particularly apt for John. He was in many ways the paper's moral compass, reminding me on occasions to temper over enthusiasm with an understanding that what we printed would be seen by thousands of people. 

What a pity the newspaper industry does not have more 'John Dochertys' in its ranks - and what a privilege it was to have him on the Hampshire Chronicle team. Many journalists believe the most important skill is being able to ask the right questions but John instinctively knew that, while it was a necessary skill, the most important one was to listen. 

Only by listening carefully to your interviewee can you understand their position and accurately reflect their story. Listening, for John, was fortunately one of his natural talents and enabled him to get to the heart of any story.

John worked more hours than he was paid for but he still found time to be actively involved in many aspects of the Winchester community. His religious beliefs were important to him and his search for spiritual truths took him all over Europe to meet people from all walks of life. 

Much of this search was captured in his book, The Life of a Man is Holy, published by the Hampshire Chronicle in 2005. Reporters - ironically - often receive a bad press but all those who met or worked with John know that he exemplified the best qualities of a journalist and of a human being: kindness, understanding, patience and a willingness to listen. He was a true gentleman of the press.

Alan Cleaver,
Church Street,

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