Frederick (Freddy) Johnston

1935 - 2022

Newspaper proprietor. Born in Edinburgh, the eldest son of another newspaperman, Johnston grew up in Falkirk, Dunblane and Crieff, where he was educated at Morrison's Academy. He went on to read history at New College, Oxford, and then worked for newspapers in Liverpool and London before joining the family firm, which had been publishing the Falkirk Herald since 1846. Becoming Chairman in 1973, on the death of this father, he grew the company through acquisition of regional newspapers to become the publicly-listed Johnston Press.

His first acquisition was the Derbyshire Times. Others followed in the England, Scotland and Ireland. By the time the company took over the Scotsman in 2005, it had become one of Britain's largest newspaper groups with a turnover of £500 million and 250 titles.

Johnston retired as Chairman in 2001, but continued as a non-executive director until 2010. By then the company was in trouble; saddled with debt, advertising revenues were falling away and they had not responded to the growing internet. It eventually went into administration in 2018 and was bought by its creditors. While saddened by the fate of his old company, Johnston felt the core of newspapers remained good journalism and the dissemination of news.

Johnston served as Chairman of the Edinburgh International Book Festival (1996 - 2001). He was appointed a CBE in 1993, and was named Personality of the Year at the Newspaper Awards in 2002.

He lived with his family in Falkirk, Brightons and then Edinburgh before moving south. He died in Wimbledon (London).

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