Roy Coxhead RIP

Printweek team
Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Long-standing printing industry journalist and former Printweek columnist Roy Coxhead has died, aged 90.

Roy and Pat Coxhead pictured at Diana Thompson's wedding
Roy and Pat Coxhead pictured at Diana Thompson's wedding

Coxhead's father was in the army, and as a result he was born in Quetta Cantonment, Balochistan, Pakistan. 

He went on to be educated in the UK and started his career on local newspapers, followed by a stint in Australia during his early married life. He later returned to the UK overland with his wife Pat in a VW.

His career included communications roles for Reed International and then the British Printing Company where he worked for ten years, departing just prior to the Robert Maxwell era.

He then joined Benn Publications where he was editor of Printing World and then editorial director. 

Coxhead went on to write for Printweek as a columnist and he was also the non-executive chairman of printing industry PR specialist Plus Point PR.

During his working life he was a Fellow of the Institute of Printing, a member of the Wynkyn de Worde society, and a Liveryman in the Stationers’ Company.

Diana Thompson, managing director of Plus Point PR and long-term associate and friend, paid tribute: “I worked for Roy at Printing World and his training and mentoring enhanced my career, eventually enabling me to set up my own company. Generously he agreed to be our non-executive chairman and bubbled with great ideas for people development, projects or business expansion,” she said.

“He was a people person, highly intelligent and good company. It has always been a pleasure to share time with Roy and Pat over many years.”   

Printweek contributor Simon Eccles described his time working for Coxhead as “great fun”.

“Roy Coxhead gave me my first job in journalism in July 1981 and I’ve been grateful to him for his teaching and management style ever since. I was recently out of Manchester Polytechnic printing college and he needed a junior reporter who understood the technology,” Eccles said.

“As well as interviewing and reporting, Roy gave the opportunity for his staff to learn the nuts and bolts of magazine production and printing. Many went on to long careers in the media.

“Roy had worked in newspapers for years, as well as being PR for the British Printing Corporation for a while in its pre-Maxwell days, so he knew both sides of the trade press. He had firm beliefs that Printing World’s editorial was written for the benefit of its readers, without being swayed by advertisers or blustering bullies like Maxwell. His message was very much that objectivity and ethics were as important as getting the story.”

Eccles added that Coxhead had kept in touch with many of his colleagues after his retirement “and we’re all going to miss him”.

Simon Kanter, a former editor and publisher of Printweek, worked for Coxhead for a while at Printing World, and subsequently recruited him as a Printweek columnist. “I loved him to bits,” he said.

Kanter is pictured pretending to push Coxhead over Niagara Falls during a Kodak press trip to the States back in the last century

Gareth Ward, who succeeded Coxhead as editor of Printing World, said: “Roy modernised the way that the printing trade press reported on industry affairs, applying a sharper edge and robust journalistic approach and emphasising the importance of independent editorial”.

Coxhead died on 17 May. He is survived by Pat, his wife of 63 years, their sons Jonathan and Gavin and three grandchildren Joe, George and Sarah.

From the archive: ‘Coxhead’ column from Printweek, February 1995


'Why it’s time to stop giving our trade press a hard time'

It started in this column, so we are claiming the right to have the last word following the thumping victory scored by the trade press in the Institute of Printing’s House of Commons debate. 

First, lest hubris become overweening, we should quickly acknowledge the help we get from the people we talk to in the industry. How often, and how patiently, is it explained to yet another newcomer to print journalism that web offset is not spelt Webb and that perfecting has nothing to do with being faultless. 

Roy Hodgson and Bob Holt argued that the printing trade press could do a better job. No one would deny this, but neither they nor their fellow supporters in the chamber had much that was constructive to contribute; not that we can complain about that, because it’s what readers say about us, but it’s not a base from which to score debating points. 

Lord Beaverbrook said that news is what someone doesn’t want you to print, the rest is advertising. Prising out these facts is expensive and tight budgets limit investigative journalism, but even our opponents will acknowledge that the trade press today chases the news far more than it did 20 years ago, and to a greater extent than the trade press of any other country. 

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