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Sunday 26 February 2017

Vinnie Doyle was the best instinctive Editor I ever encountered

Over 24 years at the 'Irish Independent' he enriched the newspaper and the lives of those on his team, says Tony O'Reilly

EDITORS edit papers in many ways, but mostly by either intellect or instinct, or by a combination of these and other factors, including a fierce sense of competition.

Vinnie Doyle, with his 'hands-on' style, had all of these qualities and -- with his background in the challenging and fast-moving world of the 'Evening Herald' -- he was the best instinctive Editor I have ever encountered.

The Irish Independent, of which he became Editor in 1981, was for 24 years his undisputed fiefdom. He extended its range, made good use of colour, introduced more feature writing and new writers, contemporised its offering along with public taste -- and was often ahead of it.

Vinnie embraced change and constantly pushed the boundaries for the good of his readers, young and not so young alike.

With Jack Gilroy, he oversaw the landmark move from printing in Middle Abbey Street to Citywest, which offered better deadlines, full colour and computer-to-plate technology -- the first of its kind in Ireland.

He also launched the compact edition, the Saturday Weekend magazine, as well as a host of new and exciting supplements.

He was the leader -- and everyone wanted to play on his team.

A true newspaper man, when asked: "What are the rewards for editing the biggest morning paper in the country?" he said: "The only real reward is the pleasure of the task itself."

His gladiatorial contests with the chief executives for extra pagination for his beloved breaking news was the stuff of legend, starting in the 1980s with the then chief executive Bartle Pitcher, moving on to John Meagher and the ever-patient Liam Healy.

The accountants wanted more advertising in the paper and Vinnie the newshound wanted the precious space for ever more breaking news.

He followed a very distinguished group of predecessors, including: Aidan Pender, Louis McRedmond, Michael Rooney and Frank Geary.

Frank Geary was famous for his observation that: "Faces sell papers". Vinnie believed in this mantra, but in a lot more besides. Perhaps it was a premonition of the future success of Facebook.

Today, shape and sex, sport and advice, economic analysis and 15 minutes of fame dominate all newspapers worldwide -- and with the coming of the iPad, who knows what the future will bring.

In all of these new changes, Vinnie would have been as quick and sure and fast as ever. He has left a great mark on the Independent and the newspaper industry in this country, and his family carry on the tradition of more than half-a-century of service to the community and to Ireland.

A special word of gratitude is due to his beloved Gertie, whose radiant smile and bubbly personality did so much for Vinnie and for all of us who know her.

Sunday Independent

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