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The Courier’s tribute to Chris Ferguson, a guiding light for journalism

There has been an outpouring of kindness from across Tayside and Fife since Courier obituaries writer Chris died, aged 60.

Chris Ferguson, who worked in local news for 40 years. Image: DC Thomson
Chris Ferguson, who worked in local news for 40 years. Image: DC Thomson

The Courier, sadly, publishes news of death almost every day.

It’s one of the hardest parts of producing a local newspaper, but our journalists handle these stories with respect and compassion.

Nobody was a better example of this than our obituaries writer Chris Ferguson, who passed away last week.

Our newsroom is devastated by his death and we all miss him terribly.

The grandfather from Arbroath, who spent 40 years in journalism, led a full and varied life, tales of which he regaled in the office so frequently they became known as “story time”, leaving his colleagues in stitches and wondering how he crammed so much into his 60 years.

His knowledge and experience was so expansive, it led to a running joke that he was in fact hundreds of years old.

Chris Ferguson in his hometown of Arbroath.

As well as an innate understanding of Courier readers, Chris had a knack for knowing when a colleague needed a friendly ear and a quiet chat, a kindness he extended to everyone he met.

In his most recent role as obituaries writer, he met families when they were grieving and at their most vulnerable.

He treated them with the empathy and respect we would all want to see in our own hour of need.

Such was the impression he made on these families, news of his own death led to an outpouring of tributes from readers who had only ever encountered him briefly and during their own darkest hour.

Courier readers pay tribute to Chris Ferguson

One reader, Ron Matchett, said: “I only met him recently when he presented a fantastic piece on my wife’s history when she passed.

“We all commented on his professionalism and his empathy with the family and we send deepest condolences to his family and all his colleagues at his workplace. I’m sure he will be greatly missed by all.”

Another, Lynn Smith, added: “So sorry to see this. Met Chris a few months ago as he wrote a lovely piece on my mum after she passed away.

“Such a lovely man, very kind and thoughtful.”

Dozens of similar tributes have poured into the newsroom in the days since his death.

Chris Ferguson covering the Queen’s cortege through Dundee in 2022.

Chris was one of a kind but he embodied the type of journalism The Courier has always aspired to.

Put simply, he cared.

He cared about the words he wrote, he cared about the people he wrote them about and he cared about the colleagues he wrote them beside.

Chris as a cub reporter.

His entire career was the epitome of brilliant, diligent, considered journalism.

No other media than local newspapers are so embedded in their communities, reporting on the happiest and most heart-wrenching moments of their readers’ lives.

Nobody understood that more than Chris, who was professional and caring from his first day as a reporter until his last.

‘A privilege to work with’

This was summed up by Iain Wallace, former owner of the Angus County Press, where Chris once worked as editor of the Deeside Piper.

He said it was “a privilege to work with Chris”, calling him “one of the best”.

Mr Wallace highlighted Chris’s ability to weave a good tale, saying “His tales of adventure – and misadventure – as a newspaper ‘hack’ were at the dodgy end of believability, but they would still have the patrons of Forfar’s Osnaburg Bar in tears of laughter.”

He also credited Chris for his compassion, which he witnessed first-hand following the death of his daughter.

“On a personal level, I was grateful for the sensitive way he handled the Courier’s obituary for my daughter, Louise, who died at Cambridge University following complications with cystic fibrosis,” he added.

“It was a difficult time for my family but Chris was respectful and compassionate. A true professional.”

These sentiments are shared by all at DC Thomson.

Chris working alongside colleagues at the G8 summit at Gleneagles in 2005.  From left: Chris Ferguson, Michael Alexander, Jack McKeown and Steve Bargeton.

During his four decades in news, Chris saw countless changes in the industry, including a shift to digital news. But he remained as relevant as ever because the purpose of his journalism was always the same – to champion and improve the communities he served.

His empathy, compassion and talent shone through on every inky page, digital article or Facebook page, a platform he finally joined in 2021 after much cajoling from his younger colleagues.

Chris is gone, but in the years and decades to come we will hold him up as a shining example of integrity, dedication and talent.

The Courier’s pledge to its readers today is to continue producing the type of journalism that would make Chris proud.