Plebgate, the Scottish Referendum and the creator of the internet

Sun editor David Dinsmore talks to newsworks review about his career and journalism

The editor of The Sun is unusual among national newspaper editors for having spent time in general management – in David Dinsmore’s case as general manager of News UK in Scotland and also as director of operations for News International.

Like most of his peers, though, he began his career in the local press – starting at the Clydebank Post – before moving to the Scottish edition of The Sun in 1991 as a reporter and later chief sub.

After moving to The News of the World as picture, then night, editor, he returned to Scotland as night editor of The Scottish Sun. In 2006 he was made editor of the title, and during that time completed a management course at Columbia Business School.

Various editorial management roles followed before, in June 2013, he became editor of The Sun.

What made you proud in 2014?

Right Said Pleb. This marked the end of a two-year legal battle with Andrew Mitchell MP – and a hugely important milestone for press freedom. Not only was our journalism vindicated, but the whole sorry saga revealed the police’s use of RIPA (the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) to hack the phone records of journalists, including our political editor, to uncover the source of leaks within their organisation. A chilling development.

Which story made the most impact?

The Scottish referendum will have long-running repercussions for the United Kingdom. Anyone who thinks the matter was settled in the early hours of 19 September is living in cloud cuckoo land. Constitutional matters will beset the next government – whether it’s Scotland or Europe – at a time when the country needs to pull together and work its way out of trouble.

Your favourite headline of 2014?

“Over the shoulder bowler bowls over an over the shoulder boulder holder moulder”. Shane Warne woos bra queen Michelle Mone (below).

Who’s influenced your career?

Sir Tim Berners-Lee. As William Caxton disrupted the monks, so Berners-Lee has, probably quite unwittingly, disrupted those who ply their trade in print. Just as there was a hunger for what the monks produced, so there is still a massive hunger for what we produce today.

It is no longer enough for newspaper journalists to curate a selection of stories for print – we have to embrace the new technologies and work out a way of monetising our wares across all available platforms. The job of a modern-day newspaper editor is virtually unrecognisable from 10 years ago.

The three qualities of a good journalist?

You still need the nose to scent a good story, the nous to work your way through the multifarious regulations and compliance issues, and, finally, the willingness to learn new ways of doing things. The successful business model in which we once operated has been blown apart – but a new one will develop.

The best book/film for an aspiring journalist?

Read anything, watch anything. The more media you consume, the more you learn. There are messages and lessons in everything. The more you immerse yourself in the subject, the more likely you are to come up with the answers.