Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Clinch, Lindsay (1907–1984)

by Valerie Lawson

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Lindsay Clinch (1907-1984), newspaper editor, was born on 13 December 1907 in New York, eldest child of Australian-born Leslie John Clinch, clerk, and his English wife Alice, née Levy. The family moved to Australia; Lindsay was educated at North Sydney Boys’ High School, where he excelled at football. He began his newspaper career as a copy-boy at the Sun in Sydney. On 22 July 1932 he married Bessie Edna Macpherson (d.1940), a nurse, at the Northbridge Presbyterian Church; they had a son before divorcing in 1936. Clinch joined the Daily Telegraph and Daily News (Sydney) as a news and court reporter, and rose to become chief sub-editor and news editor (1938-41). As a correspondent for the Telegraph he returned to his birthplace in 1941. He married Melbourne-born Norah Marie McCarthy on 4 October 1944 at St Patrick’s Catholic Church, New York, but they soon separated.

When he returned to Sydney after World War II, Clinch became editor (1947-53) of the Sunday Sun. In 1953 he was appointed executive editor of the Sun. During the next few years circulation figures of the paper overtook those of its competitor, the Daily Mirror. After years of rivalry between the two newspapers, in 1959 Clinch was seconded as editor-in-chief of the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror by the new owner, O’Connell Pty Ltd, which was financially backed by John Fairfax & Sons Pty Ltd. When Mirror Newspapers Ltd was sold in 1960, Clinch returned to New York as editor and manager of Fairfax’s office. In 1961 he was recalled to Sydney as executive editor of the Sun, where he tried to keep circulation buoyant against competition from the Mirror and the new medium, television. He used sensational headlines and front-page stories to attract attention but had a more balanced approach with editorials and features.

Throughout his career, Clinch rejected management interference in editorial policy. This approach led to several arguments with Fairfax management, one in 1962 over a headline relating to the policy of the United States of America on Netherlands New Guinea. In 1965 he asked unsuccessfully for an increase in his salary of £5000. His services as editor were terminated by the Fairfax company in mid-1965 and he left in 1966. He was general manager of Infoplan Pty Ltd (1967-69) and a consultant with the public relations firm William Love & Co. Pty Ltd for some years but his health was failing and his memory loss worried his family. After he and Norah were divorced in 1971, on 18 June he married at the registrar-general’s office, Sydney, Eena Dale (Sally) Baker, née Young (a journalist and former wife of Sidney Baker, with whom he had lived since the early 1950s.

Stocky and short, with curly hair which turned white in middle age, Clinch walked with a slight swagger and puffed on a pipe or Senorita cigar. He liked to boast that he could jump from his bed straight into his shoes. Energetic, enterprising and competitive as a journalist and editor, his nicknames were `Little White God’ and `Little Caesar’. His lifelong recreations were yachting and boat-building. Survived by his wife and the son of his first marriage, he died on 27 August 1984 at Ashfield and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • G. Souter, Company of Heralds (1981)
  • Daily Mirror (Sydney), 23 Jan 1959, p 3
  • Sun (Sydney), 27 Aug 1984, p 3
  • Journalist (Sydney), Oct 1984, p 8
  • Clinch personal file (John Fairfax Holdings Ltd archives, Sydney)
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Valerie Lawson, 'Clinch, Lindsay (1907–1984)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/clinch-lindsay-12329/text21959, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 15 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

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