Bill Zuill
Bill Zuill

The Sun was an ever-present feature of my journalistic life from the beginning and, while I never worked there, I had great respect for, and friendships with, many of the Bermuda Sun journalists.

While the paper went through several ups and downs — it was in quite a dire state before Keith Blackmore was lured over from the Mid Ocean News in the mid-1980s, where he had been a very successful political reporter (having previously done the same at the Gazette), and remade the Sun as a mid-market tabloid which was very good at covering human interest stories which the Gazette tended to neglect in favour of harder news. 

One of his most inspired moves was to take on the late Julian Hall as a columnist. That alone made the Friday Sun required reading. 

He also hired Roger Scotton from the Gazette as business editor, which gave the Sun credibility in the business community. 

When Keith left for the UK and an outstanding career at The Times and now the BBC, he was capably followed by  Adrian Drummond, and then Tom Vesey, who built up the kind of in-depth reporting which has been  a feature of the Sun until the present day. 

There are of course many other excellent journalists who have worked at the Sun, some of whom I also had the pleasure of working with, notably Meredith Ebbin.

As the editor of the competition, I was always concerned about what stories the Sun would have, whether we had covered the same angles and, later, how our online coverage could exceed the Sun’s

If I am completely honest, I also used this fear as a motivational tool for myself and my colleagues.

Bermuda has long been fortunate to have had three, (before the demise of the Mid-Ocean), and then two strong newspapers which approached the news of the day in a serious, independent and professional manner. 

The perfect storm of the last six or seven years of recession and the economic disruption brought on by the Internet era have claimed the Sun and I suspect will claim more media vehicles in the future. 

A loss

That may bring some financial stability to the survivors, but the cost to the community in terms of the loss of measured voices and mature debate is uncountable. 

A world in which the dominant voices belong to talk radio and Internet trolls will not be a happy one.

Certainly, the Sun did an excellent job of keeping the Gazette on its toes and bringing different issues and angles on major stories to the fore. 

The Sun was not perfect and there were times when the Gazette was going through severe political stress that the Sun could have been more supportive. 

But that pales in comparison to the loss of a community voice with a different perspective.

Complacency is one of the greatest threats to good journalism and it will be much harder for the Gazette’s very able journalists to remain sharp without the thought in the back of their minds of: “What’s the Sun going to have?” 

Bill Zuill is a former editor of the Royal Gazette.