Lesley Kinney: A model journalist, a trusted mentor and a digital pioneer

Highly respected STV newsroom colleague has died aged 53.

Lesley Kinney: A model journalist, a trusted mentor and a digital pioneer STV News

Lesley Kinney, who has died at the age of 53, was a highly respected colleague in the STV newsroom and one of the key drivers behind the station’s expansion into digital news.

As traditional newsrooms embraced the challenge of growing online audiences, it fell to people like Lesley to do the hard work behind the scenes to establish STV News as a credible and engaging website.

Her role required deep journalistic knowledge as she took charge of reporting on a broad range from politics and sport to entertainment and national tragedies – always told with a human touch.

She was never phased by difficult events and brought empathy and sound judgement to the most demanding of stories. Her role involved making clear decisions and she was adept at the editorial balancing act needed each day.

She was quick – as digital demands – but never at the expense of thoroughness and accuracy. She was a staunch defender of STV News values and set standards for her team that she never compromised on.

She led her team with great skill. She trusted those under her watch, and they trusted her. She was a mentor to many over the years and her guidance and support laid the foundations for numerous careers.

Her great friend in the newsroom, STV weather presenter Sean Batty said: “I made an instant connection with Lesley, often having real heart to heart conversations, as well as sharing our passion for gossip. I loved her sense of humour and the way she would roll her eyes at our dramas over the years.

“When she faced personal challenges, what kept her going was the support from her aunt and the love for her niece and nephew – she was always looking out for them and took great pride in their achievements.“

Lesley could be almost matronly in her management style, but she employed a lightness of touch when necessary. She was a big presence in the newsroom and few stories happened without her involvement. She was liked and admired by colleagues and considered a friend by many.

Special Correspondent Bernard Ponsonby said: “She had my total respect. She was happy to let you write what you felt the story of the day might be.

“Other times, if she felt you had expertise that would enhance our online offering, she would gently steer you in a particular direction. I never had reason to question her decision for I had total trust in her judgement.”

Lesley Kinney was part of the STV family for 14 years, joining the station in 2009. She held a number of posts within the digital news team including Chief Sub Editor (2012), Digital News Editor (2016) and as a Digital Producer, a role she was appointed to in 2021.

Her background was in newspapers and her career encompassed a rich reporting tapestry which started with the Clydebank Post, where she rose to the position of Chief Reporter.

Local newspapers are a great grounding and Lesley never forgot that no matter the issue it was how it affected people that made it of interest to the reader, a people-centric approach she brought to her journalism at STV.

She also held senior reporting positions at the Daily Express, the Centre Press News Agency, and The Press Association, known in newsrooms as “PA”.

Lesley was employed by PA as a senior multi-media production journalist, honing the skills that would prove so successful later in her career. Her contribution to developing and defining digital output at STV cannot be overstated, nor can her role in the wider newsroom.

Linda Grimes Douglas, Head of News and Current Affairs, said: “Lesley was a journalist’s journalist with great news sense. She was a pioneer for STV’s digital output and ran the website with focus and passion.

“Her infectious sense of humour got us through many hard days. She absolutely hated a fuss and absolutely loved her team. She was a courageous and brave friend.”

Lesley’s legacy is not just the digital presence of STV News and its trusted position amongst audiences in Scotland. It is also her spirit, her values and her “get-it-done” attitude that are now part of the fabric of the newsroom.

She was a great colleague who managed to be intensely private and yet friendly and accessible. She was a model journalist.

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