Clive Jackson, ‘conductor’ of the News Hour for decades, retires

WATCH: Squire Barnes talks to Clive Jackson on the eve of his retirement

If you’ve watched Global BC’s News Hour over the years, you’ve seen thousands of people play out the symphony that is British Columbia’s news on a nightly basis.

Politicians, businessmen, and regular people with amazing stories. Anchors, reporters, and weather people. Realtors in Richmond, nurses in Nelson – and everyone in between.

But this week, the person conducting that orchestra for the last 25 years is retiring.

“I’m lucky,” says Clive Jackson, Global BC’s Assignment Editor.

“I’ve had an incredible array of talent, musicians, different reporters who have different talents. Building them and mixing them to put on a show has been a fantastic opportunity.”

And now it comes to an end.

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“Viewers didn’t really know him,” said Brian Coxford, Global News’ longtime reporter, who was assigned thousands of stories by Jackson.

“But he was a big part of everything they saw every day.”

From Fleet Street to British Columbia

Thomas Clive Jackson spent his formative years in journalism in the bare-knuckled world of London newspapers.

“It taught me everything,” he says.

“The competitive situation was amazing. Vancouver’s a pretty competitive town, but Fleet Street at the time was incredible…tabloid wars, trying to outdo the competition, playing dirty tricks against one another.”

The experience gave ‘Action Jackson’ a lifelong thirst for exclusives, breaking news, and stories that would dominate watercooler conversation the next day.

“You can take the fella out of Fleet Street but you can’t take Street Fleet out of the fella,” joked Tony Parsons, Global News and BCTV’s long-time anchor

But after a few years, Jackson found the exhausting pace – and often destructive work environment – unappetizing.

There’s few people in British Columbia who have had a bigger influence when it comes to what you read and see in the news.

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“It was a drinking culture. There was all sort of stuff going on, and I felt, ‘do I really want to spend my life living like that?” he said.

“I used to drink with three friends. Two of them are dead, and one is in jail.”

After a year in Los Angeles as a bellboy, he made his way to Vancouver. In short order, he found a job with ‘The Province’ and his future wife, Carol-Ann, whom he has been with ever since.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

“I met her on the second day I was in Vancouver. So that was another reason to stay,” he says with a laugh.

PHOTOS: Jackson on assignment for BCTV

Assigning the news

Jackson worked as a reporter for BCTV for a decade in the 80’s, breaking countless stories – including being the first TV reporter allowed inside the isolated Mormon community of Bountiful, B.C.

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But when he had the opportunity in 1990 to switch to assigning stories, he jumped at the opportunity.

“I really loved reporting, and missed it…but I was so scared of going live,” he said.

“I absolutely hated it. So when I had the opportunity to come in, I did. And now I’ve been in here for so long, I can’t imagine reporting again.”

Every day, Jackson would wake up at 4 a.m. and be in the office by six.

For hours he would scan headlines, answer messages, and call reporters, hoping to find the right mix of seven or eight stories that would air on the News Hour later that day.

Much more often than not, he found that mix.

“He was an idea man, always one step ahead in his thinking — super competitive, loved to beat the opposition,” says Coxford.

“If he didn’t have a story by eight, he was fretting, but that usually meant he had two top stories by nine.”

He would try matching the right stories to the right reporters, never hesitating to devote eight, nine, ten minutes to a subject if thought it was warranted.

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“What do I think a perfect story is? It’s a story that someone will talk about over the water cooler the next day,” says Jackson.

“It doesn’t have to be a breaking news story, it’s just something where [people say] ‘My, did you see that on Global last night? That was incredible!'”

“If you have have four or five really good news stories that you break, and a couple really good picture stories, you’ve done your job.”

And then he would go home – and along with hundreds of thousands of British Columbians, watch the News Hour.

READ MORE: Assignment editor Clive Jackson reflects on first 50 years of BCTV/Global BC

“You were such an integral part of what became one of the great newscasts in North American history,” said Parsons to Jackson on the Morning News this week.

“What you contributed to that whole era that you and I worked together was something very, very special, and you should leave proud.”

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WATCH: Jackson talks to Steve Darling, Sophie Lui, and a number of Global News luminaries on the eve of his retirement

A consummate news man

Jackson had opportunities to leave the assignment desk for greater jobs – and greater salaries – over the years at Global News, but turned them down.

“I believe everyone has a level. I enjoy what I do,” he explained.

“If you become the ultimate boss, so much of it is management and all sorts of other stuff.

“I’m a news man, and I think a decent news man.”

Now, the news man wonders what he’ll every day without assigning it.

“It’s going to be very interesting,” he says. “I’ve got a six-week trip planned to Africa as soon as I leave, so I’m hoping that takes away the immediate impact…I hope beyond hope I will enjoy myself.”

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Still, Jackson leaves with no regrets.

“It was a good ride, it really was.”

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