Life as a Junior Reporter for the Northern Scot by Bruce Taylor

Piper Alpha Memorial Window  source: wikicommons

Piper Alpha Memorial Window at Ferryhill Church, Aberdeen Source: Wikicommons

Bruce enjoyed writing at school and generally enjoyed his English lessons. He left school in 1961 at the age of 15 and went to Websters College at the top of Batchen Lane in Elgin to study shorthand and typing. His first job was for the Northern Scot newspaper where he described his first duties as a “general dogsbody”. They included buying cigarettes for the Editor, covering events such as  Flower Shows etc.  He had to travel to local towns including Lossiemouth and Dufftown to look for stories. All the time he was looking for stories of general interest. He travelled by himself as there was no staff photographer at this time.

When he turned 22 he moved to the Press and Journal Newspaper. Someone came from the P&J to his house to offer him the job, which included an increase in wages. Bruce accepted the offer and his earnings rose from £16 a week to £25 per week (a 56% increase).

During his time at the paper the biggest story he covered was the Piper Alpha Disaster in July 1988.  Bruce was the first reporter to travel out to the rig site, the day after the accident. By that time the flames were out and all that was left was the smoking skeleton of the platform. Bruce wrote about his first impressions and his reports were run on other papers as well as his own.

Bruce thought the best part of the job was the contact with people and helping them to communicate an issue they were concerned with. This could be raising funds for someone who was ill or a local campaign against a new road or the closure of an institution. He also covered Moray Council meetings and was an advocate for those who would have had no voice. It gave him great satisfaction to see his own stories in the Press and also when some stories were taken up by the National Press.

Additional Information

British Newspaper ArchiveThe Press and Journal has 13,234 back issues lodged with the British Newspaper Archive holds a number of Press and Journal newspapers in a digitised form. The BNA website

New Scottish online resource related to the Piper Alpha Disaster. The resource is part of the Glow Intranet community.
 Piper Alpha Disaster – Education Scotland website with a link to the glow-based resource.