Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Press and Journal farming editor Joe Watson

Joe Watson.
Joe Watson.

Scotland’s farming community has been shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Joe Watson, the long-serving and much-respected farming editor of the Courier’s sister newspaper, the Press and Journal.

Joe, who would have celebrated his 44th birthday at the Highland Show in June, had been in indifferent health in recent months but none of his friends and colleagues expected such a sad and sudden end for such a prolific journalist.

Joe was passionately proud of being a ‘Turra loon’ and lived in the Aberdeenshire town with his mother Mirren.

The loss of his father, also Joe, 15 months ago was a heavy blow to Joe and his two brothers and their families.

On a personal level, I am struggling to cope with the realisation that I have lost such a close colleague and friend.

The members of the Scottish agricultural press are a close-knit group and often hunt as a pack. When it came to asking the difficult questions and winkling out the real story no one among us was as determined as Joe. That was a mark of his professional approach to journalism, as was his willingness to criss-cross the country in search of a good tale.

We often travelled together and he was always the best of company, making even the longest journey seem short thanks to his endless fund of stories and his often trenchant observations.

In recent years the Press and Journal has been part of the DC Thomson group, and that involved closer collaboration in filling the farming pages of both newspapers.

More often than not we shared stories, but from time to time we would go to great lengths to avoid sharing a scoop. It was all part of the fun of journalism, and I don’t think we ever exchanged a genuinely cross word.

Joe started his journalistic career in 1987 with The Courier in the Montrose office, moving to the Banff office of the Press and Journal two years later.

Even in his early years he was determined to stick up for his beloved north-east.

He loved to tell the story of a London broadsheet which carried a piece claiming that Scottish delicacies such as cullen skink were no longer available.

Joe immediately sought out a can of Baxter’s soup of that variety, jumped on a plane and delivered it personally to the desk of a somewhat astounded Fleet Street columnist. No doubt it was delivered with Joe’s customary greeting: “Joe Watson, Press and Journal!”

These few barked words could inspire fear as well as admiration. Anyone with something to hide could expect little mercy, especially if they were keeping Joe from the truth. He also had considerable physical presence on his side.

Joe moved to the farming desk of the Press and Journal in 1997 and, using as a springboard the contacts and knowledge he had built up as a member of Turriff Young Farmers Club, he soon became one of the best-known faces on the farming circuit not only in the north-east but across Scotland.

Joe was blessed with an encyclopedic memory for names and farm addresses and was always a good man to sit next to at the bull sales.

He also had a real grip of all the issues of the day, including the complexities of the Common Agricultural Policy.

One of the saddest things about losing Joe so prematurely is that he still had so much to offer. He was a leading journalist at the height of his powers.

He died at home on Thursday evening having spent a full day firing out emails and filing copy. That was the mark of his commitment to the profession he loved and served seven days a week.

Announcing Joe’s passing to stunned staff at the Press and Journal, editor-in-chief Damian Bates hailed him as a journalist who had been recognised for his work on numerous occasions.

This included winning the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists’ regional newspaper agricultural editor of the year award three times.

“Joe was passionate about the farming industry and fearless over tackling controversial subjects,” he said.

“His pages in the Press and Journal every day, and his weekly supplement, were read avidly by the farming community and general readers alike.”

Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “I am shocked and saddened to hear that we have lost Joe Watson and, like so many people, I can’t quite believe that he’s no longer with us.

“I offer my heart-felt condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. I have known and worked with Joe for more than 20 years, since his days as a local reporter and in his role as the Press and Journal’s farming man.

“Joe was a north-east loon through and through, and a huge character. He was one of Scotland’s most respected agricultural journalists who knew the industry and all the issues inside out: it seems everywhere I went, Joe was there doing his job.

“I think it is fair to say Joe was much more than your average journalist: he was an institution, and that is irreplaceable. He will be very sadly missed.”

Uel Morton, chief executive of Quality Meat Scotland, said: “Joe was an exceptionally dedicated agricultural journalist, 100% committed to delivering strong editorial to the farming community.”

Scottish Tenant Farming Association director Angus McCall said: “I have known Joe since he became farming editor for the Press and Journal and have always had a huge respect for his honesty, integrity and tenacity as an agricultural journalist.

“He was never frightened to ask those difficult questions, and relentless in pursuit of an answer.”

Turriff-based Jane Craigie, chairman of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists, said: “Joe has been involved in the BGAJ in many roles for more than a decade, including two years as chairman.

“He was about to stand down from the BGAJ Council due to workload and health concerns.

“Joe’s role most recently was as our representative to the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. It was thanks to him that the north east of Scotland will be welcoming close to 250 agri-food journalists from 50 countries in September.”