Magazine article Editor & Publisher

McNicoll, Longtime AP Editor, Dies at 93

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

McNicoll, Longtime AP Editor, Dies at 93

Article excerpt

Donald McKay McNicoll, a longtime editor for The Associated Press whose coverage of Winston Churchill's death appeared in thousands of newspapers around the globe, has died at age 93.

McNicoll, who suffered a stroke in 2000, died Monday in St. Mary's Hospital in London, his family said.

Known as 'Mac' to colleagues and friends, the Scottish-born McNicoll was widely admired for his editing skills and quick decisions in handling stories.

"McNicoll was the one person whom I always found extremely keen to know about and help with everything that was going on," said Horst Faas, AP's Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and former European photo editor. "Mac was disarmingly witty and never lost control or showed anger."

A vivid picture of McNicoll at work was drawn by the late South African journalist and anti-apartheid activist Donald Woods in his 1980 autobiography, "Asking for Trouble." Woods described what he called a "harrowing interview" with McNicoll while seeking a job with the AP in London.

"McNicoll seemed to be doing several things at once, mentally subediting running copy from a teletype machine on to his typewriter while answering questions from a succession of journalists. ... Three or four of the journalists waited in line for such guidance, which McNicoll gave out of the corner of his mouth without looking up from his typing or his reading of the telex," Woods wrote.

When McNicoll found out that Woods was 24 and without journalistic experience in Britain, he announced to everyone within hearing that he must be a genius to consider himself ready to join AP.

Exclaiming, "I'll soon find out!" McNicoll plucked a thick handful of stories and told Woods to edit them in exactly one hour: "Tight, mind! Not one unnecessary word."

Woods gave back half the stories and did the tightest editing job he could on the rest for the next hour, he wrote. …

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