There are no pretensions with Jim McDowell, the burly, shaven-headed Northern Editor of the Sunday World. In his unmistakeable gravelly Belfast accent he describes himself simply as “a hack”.
Maybe, but a very courageous one. His reporting takes him into the subterranean world of paramilitary gangsterism and drug dealing which many in Northern Ireland would like to pretend does not exist.
He sets a fearless example of a true investigative journalist, exposing the sordid underbelly of life here.
This has exposed him to danger and once again this week he was the target of thugs when he was savagely beaten up in front of Belfast City Hall.
The 60-year-old suffered injuries to his head and body after being punched and kicked by the gang — but he’s been there before and it hasn’t stopped his fearless exposure of criminals.
He can tell you that he has had enough official notifications from the PSNI — and before that the RUC — of paramilitary threats to his life to paper the walls of his home.
This has meant him and his family having to be constantly aware of their vulnerability and take appropriate precautions.
Everyone is well aware that not all such threats are idle.
His colleague Martin O'Hagan was shot dead in September 2001 by members of the Loyalist Volunteer Force and a fortnight ago Jim's car was vandalised when he attended a court hearing in Craigavon of men charged in connection with Mr O’Hagan’s killing.
The crusading work of the Sunday World led to its Belfast offices being firebombed in 1999 and loyalists tried to enforce a ban on the sale of the newspaper in their Shankill Road heartland.
Jim in many ways typifies the public stereotype of the investigative journalist.
He is happier sharing a pint — or three — with his many contacts than engaging in deskbound writing which is the lot of most in today's profession.
And he is not afraid to confront his enemies directly.
In his book Godfathers, which detailed Northern Ireland's drug trade, he tells of meeting one drug baron in a city centre street who — in a chilling forerunner of Wednesday night's attack — accused the journalist of getting him shot and wounded. He challenged Jim to a fight but backed down when he realised that Jim was more than happy to oblige.
Ironically his nearest brush with death had nothing to do with paramilitaries or criminals.
He was a passenger in a helicopter which crashed during a corporate hospitality trip leaving him with severe back injuries.
Jim started his journalistic career in Century Newspapers, owners of the News Letter and now defunct Sunday News, which he later edited.
A committed trade unionist and member of the NUJ, he led many disputes with management, finally severing connections with the paper after a strike in the 1980s.
He then founded the Ulster Press Agency with two former colleagues, a move which later led to an association with the Sunday World and his current editorship.
The former rugby player is a proud Belfast man – hailing originally from the Donegall Pass area of the city – and has made numerous television programmes about the city.
Ironically one of those programmes featured the City Hall, where he had his latest brush with violence.
One thing’s for sure, however, Wednesday’s attack won’t stop Jim from going back.