Mair and Knight go at Telegraph; Buckley leaves Obs

Lewine Mair and Tom Knight, specialist sports correspondents at the Daily Telegraph for more than a decade, are the latest casualties of wide-ranging cuts in staff at the newspaper.

Separately, Observer sports feature writer Will Buckley is taking voluntary redundancy, although he is expected to continue writing occasional freelance articles for the sports pages and Observer Sport Monthly.

The Telegraph has laid off its obituaries, motoring and literary editors this week as part of around 50 job cuts announced by the paper last month. Tennis and football writer Clive White and sports feature writer Alison Kervin were reported last week as being among the first to leave the sports desk, as pagination cuts in the new year will leave the paper with less space in what was the first daily newspaper sports supplement.

Mair is the first woman to work as the golf correspondent of a national newspaper, having been appointed to the role by the Telegraph in 1997 – the year that she was shortlisted for the Sports Writer of the Year award. A mother of four, she is married to Norman Mair, the renowned golf and rugby writer with The Scotsman. Lewine Mair had worked at the Telegraph as a sports feature writer for five years before her golf appointment.

Mair’s golf writing is informed by her background playing for England and Great Britain girls’ teams in the 1960s, while her journalism began filing a weekly golf column for the Birmingham Planet and, at 20, covering the game for The Times. She is the author of a bookcase-worth of golf books, including the biography of Colin Montgomerie.

Earlier this year, after Jim Mossop, a regular golf writer for the Sunday Telegraph, left the title, it had been suggested that Mair would cover the sport across both Victoria-based papers and their website, though this did not seem to materialise.

Knight’s departure makes the Telegraph the fifth major newspaper to dispense with its athletics correspondent in the past 18 months – The Guardian has not replaced Duncan Mackay, the 2004 Sports Writer of the Year, with a named track writer since his departure; Mackay has since left the Observer; The Independent and Independent on Sunday have merged their two athletics jobs into one, with Mike Rowbotham leaving earlier this year; and last month, Ian Chadband, the chief sports writer and athletics specialist at the London Evening Standard, was made redundant.

After an apprenticeship at the Watford Observer, Knight spent several years in a senior role at Running magazine, before joining the Telegraph full-time a decade ago.

“It’s Olympic year with a London Games in less than four years’ time,” a senior figure within the British Athletics Writers’ Association, said today, “and there are fewer athletics correspondents working on the nationals today than at any time in living memory.

“Goodness knows what they will do when they need the contacts and expertise in four years’ time.”

In the case of Buckley, who has a burgeoning career as a radio broadcaster and author, the parting of the ways is understood to be more a matter of mutual consent, which will allow him to contribute to the paper occasionally on a freelance basis.

More on sports desk job cuts:

Martin Johnson latest to leave the Telegraph
Fraser quits Independent to return to Middlesex
Express to cut more than 70 jobs
Publishers pull the plug on two football blogs
Harry Harris to leave Express
Sports desk at centre of Telegraph concern
Brighton’s weekly sports paper to close

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