end of an era

Posted: October 13, 2009 in Bermuda, media

I heard the news today, oh boy – it’s farewell to the Mid-Ocean News on Friday. The weekly paper will cease publication after 98 years and with it goes a bit of my personal history, having been the paper’s sports editor from 1984 to 1992. By the time I joined, the Mid-O (or the Wahoo News as we dubbed it then) had been a weekly paper since 1968 but it had previously been a daily paper and continued to be so after the Bermuda Press, owners of The Royal Gazette bought it in 1962.

I have great memories of working on the paper and the many long Thursday nights carousing in the Lobster Pot and The Club after putting another edition to bed. My colleagues during that time were some of the best newspaper people I ever worked with and remain friends to this day. Amanda Outerbridge was a fine, fair and conscientious editor; Ivan Clifford, the long-suffering deputy editor, was an old-school stickler for good copy and a punning headline-writer par excellence. The fine staff who came and went on to better things included Brits Howard Rose, Duncan Hopwood, Mark Graham and Keith Blackmore (now deputy editor of The Times in London), Canadian Stu Nicol (who went on to produce shows at TSN, ESPN and is now Vice President Broadcasting & Programming at the PGA Tour) and Canadian-US author, journo and blogger Danielle Crittenden. Kiernan Bell, now president of the Bermuda Bar Association, is another former reporter … and there were many others I know I’ve forgotten.

At the time of writing I don’t know the full reasons for the closure but given that the paper rarely made money, it was only a matter of time before the Gazette would decide it could no longer afford to subsidise it. The current economic climate and the increase in online competition only hastened a demise that a bold redesign by my good friend Dana Cooper could not avert.

Even so, the demise seems to have been sudden – staff were apparently only told this afternoon (Tuesday).  I hope they are being absorbed by the Gazette and that editor Tim Hodgson’s thundering editorials find a new home in print. With this current Government we can ill afford to lose another voice of opposition and objective reporting.

It is indeed a sad day when Bermuda now has just two newspapers (no, the Workers’ Voice does not count) and fewer newspapers than it has had in more than 200 years. It is, unfortunately, a sign of the times. As I wrote recently, the news business is changing forever and the pace and scope of that change may not be wholly desirable but it is, I fear, unstoppable.

  1. Hey Gibbons
    Thanks for the shout out. A sad day indeed. The Mid O Diaspora is indeed a fine thing. The paper will be sadly missed. I have no doubt the great voices that graced the newspaper’s pages until recently will find new places to be heard.

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