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Friday, 24 April 2015

End of The Canberra Times as we know it

Cool typewriting Jack left, computer-using Jack right
The end of The Canberra Times as we know it (and have done for more than 40 years) arrived on Wednesday afternoon when editor-at-large Jack Waterford announced he will leave the newspaper on April 30. Waterford, one of the Southern Hemisphere's most outstanding print newspaper editors, is also one of the last to have enjoyed a career which embraced manual typewriters (Olivetti 82s) at its concupiscent start and computers at its flaccid end.
Yesterday's Canberra Times declared in a large page one headline that this would be the "end of an era". It's more than that, much more. As Australasia's remaining print newspapers continue to be allowed to go to the dogs, The Canberra Times has been able to hold its own in revenue. Its owners, Fairfax, actually don't like to admit that, because they are so totally besotted with "new media platforms" that they think online newspapers are the only way to go. Their on-going efforts to run this print newspaper into the ground have thus far failed - for one main reason: Waterford still writes for it. And Canberrans have shown they want to read Waterford in print, not online. Waterford on the Web is just not the same thing. It's like eating Vegemite without the toast.
Waterford said, "Having recently acquired a few fresh grandchildren, I have decided to step back and enjoy some of the other things life has to offer while still maintaining an interest in politics and the people of Canberra." Waterford will continue to write a weekly column as a freelance contributor, but massive gaps will be left in The Canberra Times editions on the other five days of the week.
Waterford joined The Canberra Times as a copyboy in February 1972. In 1985 he won the Graham Perkin Australian Journalist of the Year Award for his pioneering work on accessing government documents through Freedom of Information legislation. He became deputy editor in 1987, editor in 1995, editor-in-chief in 2001 and editor-at-large in 2006. In 2007 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day Honours "For service to journalism, particularly as a commentator on national politics, the law, to raising debate on ethical issues and public sector accountability, and to the community in the area of Indigenous affairs." He was also Canberra Citizen of the Year. 
John Edward O'Brien Waterford was born in the small country town of Coonamble, New South Wales (population 2998, plus several thousand more sheep) on February 12, 1952, and educated at St Joseph's College, Hunter's Hill, Sydney. He graduated in law from the Australian National University (where he used a VariTyper). He was appointed to a Jefferson Fellowship at the East-West Center in Honolulu in 1987 and is a board member of the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre.
I am proud to list Waterford among the 12 great print newspaper editors for whom I worked:
Russell William Nelson (1923-1983;
Greymouth Evening Star)
Sir Orton Sutherland Hintz (1907-1985;
The New Zealand Herald, Auckland)
Adrian Milford Deamer (1922-2000;
The Australian, Sydney)
Owen Mackay Thomson (1932-1998;
The Australian, Sydney, and The Sunday Independent, Western Australia)
Timothy Patrick "Tim Pat" Coogan (1935- ;
The Irish Press, Dublin, Ireland)
Sir Harold Matthew Evans (1928 -;
The Sunday Times, London)
Ian Leonard Hummerston (1931-2006;
The Daily News, Western Australia)
John Kenneth Hartigan (1947 -;
Sun Newspapers, Brisbane)
Robert Edward Cronin (1944 -;
The West Australian)
Warwick Bryce Wockner (1947 -;
The Townsville Bulletin)
Peter James Fray (1962- ;
The Canberra Times)


Jasper Lindell said...

Sad news indeed. The future of the Times is now even more ominous and bleak.

Bill M said...

Hopefully Mr. Waterford had a good understudy that can carry on in his tradition and keep the paper on track.

So often when the good people leave there is nobody there to replace them and the bottom line only folks take over and ruin things.

Rob Bowker said...

It is the way things are going I'm afraid. I'm pleased you make mention of Harold Evans - his book Pictures on a Page was (is) a big part of my photography education, both in the taking and the editing thereof.