Archive for the ‘Bermuda’ Category

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This time last year, part of The Royal Gazette‘s history died with its former editor, David White. Twelve months on, we are mourning the loss of another Gazette legend, the cartoonist Peter Woolcock.

His weekly cartoons in the Gazette were as much a part of the political landscape as the politicians themselves. He poked fun at the pomposity and small-town absurdity of it all, not with the cruel barbs of a Gerald Scarfe or Ralph Steadman, but a gentle mocking humour and a knowing wink that more often than not even brought a smile to those being drawn, many of whom paid him for the originals. Woolcock himself admitted (in the video interview below) that he couldn’t do what political cartoonists did in the UK or the US. “They really are sometimes pretty vicious,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any room or need for that here.”

They very much reflected his personality – gentlemanly, modest, compassionate with a deprecating sense of humour and, as Andrew Trimingham, reviewing Woolcock’s annual Woppened collection of Gazette cartoons, once put it, “an unerring instinct for silliness”.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina to British parents, and a Second World War veteran, he came to Bermuda in 1981 and began drawing his political cartoons in 1983, first in the Bermuda Sun and then the Gazette.

A consummate draughtsman who worked in pen, ink and watercolour wash, he had cut his illustrative teeth in what he later called “the golden era of cartoons” in the 1950s, spending more than 30 years drawing for children’s books and comic strips, including The Adventures of Mr. Toad (his favourite), Tiger Tim, and several Disney books – 101 Dalmatians, Robin Hood, Jungle Book, Dumbo and Winnie the Pooh – although he found conforming to Disney’s strict character formats stifling compared to creating his own.

When I was editor of RG Magazine in the 1990s, Peter was a frequent visitor to our offices – either to chat and share a spot of gossip that usually started with a conspiratorial “Of course, what I heard was …” or deliver one of his splendid works.

We commissioned him to do several Vanity Fair-style illustrations for the magazine, among them two of my favourite covers – a smug Premier David Saul in 1996 and Colonel David Burch in 2000. Burch was Premier Jennifer Smith’s Chief of Staff at the time but was much mocked as being little more than the Premier’s bag carrier. The famous bag, of course, was in the picture too.

Peter Woolcock was truly a national treasure and was tragically killed yesterday after being hit by a car on his way to deliver what would be his last hand-drawn cartoon for the Gazette. Ever the old-school traditionalist (there were never scanned or digitally-produced images e-mailed to the editor, of course), at 88 he still believed in the personal touch.

That touch will be sadly missed. His passing really is the end of an era.

 


 

Listen to Peter talk about his art and career in this 2009 interview by Milton Raposo.

Advertisements

Crest of a wave

Posted: December 3, 2014 in Bermuda
Tags: ,

 

Bermuda has understandably gone a bit bonkers over the awarding of the 2017 America’s Cup. I don’t think there could have been much more widespread excitement if we had landed the Olympics. It’s a massive achievement for the Island and kudos to all those involved in the successful bid – an amazing job!

Not only is this a great honour to host one the world’s greatest and oldest sporting events but everyone from restaurant wait staff and retailers to construction and international business seems to understand that this offers a huge opportunity for Bermuda to reboot its economy and give the flagging tourism industry a shot in the arm.

Of course once the celebrations have died down, the real work begins. My hope is that the organisers ride the wave of goodwill and engage the whole Island in the staging of the event because let’s face it, the America’s Cup is the epitome of a rich white man’s sport. But this event is so important to the Island’s future that it is essential that as many people – black, white, sailors and non-mariners – are made to feel a part of it and given ways to contribute and be involved.

I have no doubt that Bermudians will rise to the occasion and put on a fantastic event. And while everyone hopes to cash in on the expected surge in visitors, it would be nice to think that the airlines and hotels will play their part and not use it as an excuse to gouge tourists. One of the important legacies of the America’s Cup must be that a lot of people discover Bermuda, have an incredible experience and want to come back. Ripping them off and having a ‘tude isn’t going to help.

And let’s hope politicians on both sides don’t use it to score cheap points (who am I kidding, right?). So please, no gloating from the OBA, and while the PLP is absolutely right to demand that Government is transparent about the costs and important decisions it will make over the next few years,  I hope they pick their fights carefully.

We are, so to speak, all in the same boat in making sure the 35th America’s Cup is a huge success.

 

Truth-and-lies

Given all the fuss over Jetgate, Wetgate, Gardengate or whatever Gate is in vogue this week, I think our politicians need some help. Maybe they should start their own 12-step programme, although being the self-important, self-serving, egotists that most of them are, I imagine it would probably go something like this …

  1. We admitted we were powerless over the media – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that no power greater than Ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Ourselves.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of other people.
  5. Admitted to the Party, to the media, to the voters, and to any other dumb human being who will listen, the exact nature of our rights.
  6. Were entirely ready to have Spin Doctors remove any apparent defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked them to cover up our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons who had slighted us, and became willing to settle scores with them all.
  9. Made direct verbal attacks on such people wherever possible, except when there was no chance of media coverage.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly lied about it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Ourselves, praying only for the knowledge needed to win the next election and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having achieved spiritual and moral bankruptcy and a complete loss of trust and credibility as the result of these steps, we still insisted on carrying this message to the voters and to impose these principles in all their affairs.

(With apologies to 12-step recovery programmes everywhere. You can find the real powerful stuff here.)

Ayo Johnson: Independent thinker

Ayo Johnson’s new media organisation Think Media and its “fearless independent” digital journal Politica may not quite be the status-shaking reporting revolution that this week’s pre-launch hype in the Bermuda Sun breathlessly suggested but Johnson is certainly to be applauded for at least firing the first shots.

The former Royal Gazette and Bermuda Sun reporter takes his profession very seriously and believes local media can and should play a much more influential role in holding governments and institutions accountable, and ensuring that the integrity of the organisations on which society depends is not compromised by narrow political and economic interests. In doing so, he says the media must also strive to meet and maintain high standards of integrity and ethics – areas where he claims Bermuda’s established media often fall short because of pressure from boards, politicians and advertisers, as well as lack of time and resources.

These are worthy but lofty goals and cynics will no doubt dismiss Johnson as naive and idealistic. But he is prepared to put his money where his mouth is. Think/Politica is not trying to be a daily news service like The Royal Gazette or Bernews, or another opinionated blog, but a platform for longer, in-depth articles and a serious, thought-provoking alternative voice on the local media landscape. And that’s to be welcomed.

Politica is not (yet) beholden to advertisers – readers pay to read beyond the first few paragraphs. Whether that’s a sustainable business model remains to be seen but hey, why not try something new? If nothing else it puts a value on journalism’s labour-intensive craft that is increasingly taken for granted in the internet age.

So what did readers get for their $3.00 today?

Johnson spent six months producing the 4,000-plus word piece, “Selling Bermuda”, on Premier Cannonier’s dubious handling of his relationship with American casino developer Nathan Landow. It meticulously detailed the background to the ‘Jetgate’ scandal – much of which was reported extensively in early 2013 by Johnson while he was working at the Gazette – and the Premier’s apparent dishonesty about his relationship with Landow.

(more…)

Earth matters

Posted: May 1, 2014 in Bermuda
Tags: , , ,

 

Earlier this year, the Bermuda National Trust invited students to make videos to celebrate Earth Day. They were asked to make 2-4 minute films on  ‘The Ocean Around Us’, ‘A Green Hero’ or ‘Sustainability and Local Food’. 

The environmental awareness and creativity shown by the young filmmakers was quite remarkable. I’ve posted Somersfield Academy student Meinhardt Rentrup’s winning video above but I urge you to visit the BNT website and spend a few minutes watching some of the other excellent entries. The best videos will also be shown on VSB 11 on May 8 at 10 am and 9 pm and May 11 at 8 pm.

My daughter Kayley didn’t win a prize but I’m still proud of her effort (see below) which focused on local food.

 

David L. White (1933-2013)

I was saddened to hear of the death of David L. White, former editor of The Royal Gazette, who passed away last night after a long illness.

While he and I did not always see eye to eye professionally during our time at Par-La-Ville Road, we enjoyed a far more cordial relationship after he retired and I came to respect his talents and generosity of spirit that weren’t always appreciated or valued in the chaotic and dysfunctional nature of a daily newsroom.

In fact, had it not been for David I would not have ended up in Bermuda at all, let alone call it my home for more than 30 years as it was he who interviewed me at the Berkeley Hotel in London in 1982 for a job on the sports desk of the Gazette.

It was the longest and most entertaining interview I’ve ever had, largely because by the time we’d finished, it was early evening and he insisted on buying dinner. As we sat down, he asked me what I would like to drink. Not knowing the protocol one should take with a prospective (and foreign) employer, I asked what he was having. “I’m having a f******g double vodka and tonic!” he declared loudly. “The single measures you Limeys serve are a joke!”

And so we proceeded to consume an absurd quantity of vodka and good wine. I have no idea what we talked about from then on but as I stood swaying on the Tube platform later that night waiting for the train home, I remember feeling confident that I would be leaving England for a tiny island in the Atlantic later that year.

(more…)

Gazette editor dismissed

Posted: July 8, 2013 in Bermuda, media

The situation at The Royal Gazette gets curiouser and curiouser. Following my recent post about the increasing board interference in editorial matters, the paper today dismissed Acting Editor Jeremy Deacon and appointed former Mid-Ocean News editor Tim Hodgson as Consulting Editor. The Gazette said Mr. Hodgson’s consultancy period will last until the directors appoint a new full-time editor. Mr Hodgson was made redundant by the company when the Mid-Ocean News was closed in 2009.

The news, which came as a shock to Gazette staffers, was announced to employees in a letter from CEO Jonathan Howes that angered many as it made no mention of Mr. Deacon. A subsequent release and story on the Gazette website made a brief reference to Mr. Deacon thanking him “for his commitment and support in recent months”.

One staffer’s reaction was typical: “He (Mr. Deacon) was treated appallingly, in a thoroughly ruthless manner. They sacked him, cut him off completely.”

Mr. Deacon took over as Acting Editor under a six-month contract following the resignation of Bill Zuill last year. Whether the Gazette did not offer Mr. Deacon a new contract or – as some sources speculate – Mr. Deacon refused to sign it because of what he felt were unacceptable terms and conditions, is not clear.

In an email response to questions by Breezeblog about why Mr. Deacon was dismissed, Mr. Howes said: “We found a qualified Bermudian to fulfill the role. Mr. Deacon’s employment with the Royal Gazette did not end as a result of disagreements over editorial control.”

He also said: “We treat all employment matters as confidential. I have no further comment.”

He did not respond to further questions about why Mr. Hodgson’s role is a temporary appointment if he is considered a Bermudian qualified for the position (Mr. Deacon has Bermudian status).

Mr. Deacon and Mr. Hodgson declined to comment at this time.

It remains to be seen how all this will pan out but the perception in the industry is that having replaced an Acting Editor with a Consulting Editor and still, according to the masthead, employing an Acting Deputy Editor and Acting Business Editor, the company resembles a rudderless ship in desperate need of leadership and direction.