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Obituary: David Goddard

David Goddard, for nearly three decades one of Reuters' top desk editors, died in a Devon nursing home on Friday after a long illness. He was 71.

A consummate deskman, he made his name on the World Desk overnight shift in London where he was a copy taster/lead re-write sub-editor for seven years from 1975 to 1982.

Goddard had worked on various British newspapers and Radio Free Europe before joining Reuters. He became a master of the leadall pulling together strands of a fast-breaking story from different datelines into an all-embracing summary. He wrote scores of them on the first Gulf War. Almost always they were under the byline of a correspondent closer to the action.

Goddard was the journalist editors often turned to in a crisis when a decisive, experienced hand was needed to anchor a news desk. When editors assembled any Olympic Games coverage team, for example, he was usually one of the first to be picked as anchor deskman.

People who worked with Goddard remember him as an engaging, opinionated colleague whose enthusiasm and energy rubbed off on those around him.

His news judgment was exemplary, former editor David Rogers said. “He could hammer out a story as quickly as anyone and make the dullest copy ‘sing’. His forte was the leadall and during his long Reuters career hundreds of Goddard leadalls illuminated the file.” 

Graham Stewart, another former editor, said ”Dave had an unerring instinct for a news story and the impact it would have and crucially knew how to 'sell' it. He was the master of the dynamic hard-hitting lead.”

Goddard went to Hong Kong in the mid-1980s as editor-in-charge of the Asia desk, then on to Nicosia as editor-in-charge of the Middle East desk and subsequently editor-in-charge of the expanded Middle East and Africa desk.

He left Nicosia in March 1994 and on his return to London retired early on medical grounds. He was a model railway enthusiast and made well-crafted model locomotives.

Goddard leaves his wife Jackie and four sons. His third son, Matthew, is following in his father's footsteps in pursuing a journalistic career.

PHOTO: David Goddard at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. ■