This is sad news that has reached me on vacation up here in Canada. Very, very sad news indeed.
I say this not just as a former journalist who honed his craft at the Sun some thirty-five years ago, but as a faithful reader and member of the Bermuda community that the Sun serves.
There is no question in my mind that over the years, right from inception in fact, the Sun strove to provide Bermuda if not with an alternative voice at important times in our history, then with an alternate vehicle for news, information and opinion.
I think it fair to say that on that score the Sun and its staff succeeded week in and week out. You carved out a niche for news and opinion that made it more than worthwhile for readers to plunk down a dollar for the newspaper each Wednesday and Friday.
From my own experience, I know that is no easy task and I salute you and all of your staff, all of whom upheld and improved on the tradition that was that of the Sun.
I know too, from experience as well, in my years as editor, the financial challenges of publishing a weekly, now bi-weekly, newspaper.
We struggled in those days as well. There were times back then, when without the backing of the late Mr Donald French and Island Press, along with the unflinching support of the directors of the Sun, we thought the Sun would close up shop.
The advertising dollar even in our day only went so far in the Bermuda market. We persevered then as have you until today, Wednesday, July 30th, which I hope will only be remembered as the day the Sun set in journalism in Bermuda, and not as the day the Sun set on journalism in Bermuda. There is an important distinction, I think.
The Internet has offered up new challenges and possibilities for newspapers and journalists. Newsprint may be rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Newspapers seem to be going out of business the world over.
It looks very much like an ineluctable trend in this, the digital age.
While personally I still prefer purchasing, handling and cutting up my newspaper, I recognise too the new opportunities afforded by the Internet and social media. We can only hope that enterprising and capable journalists will find a way to take advantage. I would like to think there will always be room and the demand for factual reporting and informed opinion.
For sure there will be a need as people are exposed to and have to choose from a multiplicity of voices.
I am only sorry that the Sun was unable to find a way to continue — at least digitally. But who knows? Perhaps there are some who will be inspired to press on. I don’t know but I hope so.
Finally, I should like to thank all those who through the years worked hard to make the Sun relevant and readable in every way, whether before, during or after I worked at the Sun, and a special thanks of appreciation to today’s staff who have lost their jobs. Journalism is still an honourable and worthwhile profession despite what some others might think and say, and the Bermuda Sun did a pretty good job over the years of making sure that was so.
John Barritt is a former editor of the Bermuda Sun.