Archive for the ‘media’ Category

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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.

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.


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.