Monday, September 20, 2010

Evening Post staff

Towards the end of 1984 I was finally taken off the courts beat and allowed to turn my attention to general reporting, with a strong emphasis on the political drama that was unfolding with the formation of the United Democratic Front. Over the next few months and years, I sketched some of my colleagues.

The guy at the top is Bob Eveleigh, who was the arts editor of the Evening Post when I arrived in 1984. In fact, we both did the Atex computer course together. Bob moved to the Post's sister paper, The Herald, when the Post closed, and continues to write for various publications. The guy at the bottom looks like a somewhat harried Ralph Jarvis, my first news editor. The mileage record was for my end-of-month expenses claim.

Sir James. That was how Jimmy Matyu was sometimes referred to by his companion, photographer Elijah Jokazi. Jimmy was already a veteran of several decades on the Evening Post and other newspapers when I got to know him in the mid-1980s. He became an invaluable source of contacts and information about the turbulent PE townships which, at that time, were arguably the most militant in the country.

After Ralph Jarvis left soon after I arrived, Cliff Foster, a British expat, took over as news editor. Notice that in those days journalists were always smartly dressed.

Joining us for a while in the mid-1980s was Mike Loewe, who went on to make a name for himself as an activist journalist based in Grahamstown with the East Cape News Agency.

Another veteran already when I got there was Raymond Hill, who knew the city's Northern Areas inside out. Raymond had a tendency of carrying his copy of the Post first edition in his jacket pocket. Here he is seated at one of the Atex computer terminals we worked at. This early computer system, phased out only in the mid-1990s, had been introduced in the early 1980s.

When I got to the Post, Stephen Rowles was municipal reporter. He later moved to the production side as a sub-editor, and later chief-subbed on both the Evening and Weekend Post. When the Evening Post was shut down in the early 2000s, he became chief-sub of The Herald, formerly the Eastern Province Herald, the Post's sister paper. At the time of writing he is Herald night editor.

Raymond Hill again, doing a job none of us really enjoyed - taking a dictate. This, of course, was before the Internet and cellphones, so court reporters, or anyone else far from the office who needed to get their copy through, would phone the news room and dictate the story.

Newspapers were properly staffed in those days, with even a small paper like the Post having a political correspondent covering stories in Parliament. This is Dirk van Zyl, who was our political guru at the time. The son of a former secretary of Parliament, Dirk, like me, also did a stint as an organiser for the Progressive Federal Party.

One of the real characters in the news room was Cathy Schnell, whose blonde hair was not her only interesting attribute.

Another Post veteran was Robin Stephenson, father of current Democratic Alliance Eastern Cape MPL Bobby.

Chris Rennie covered the Supreme Court, and was nicknamed "Judge Rennie". One of his claims to fame was that he had been married to Anne, either before or after (I can't recall which) she was married to famous author Wilbur Smith.

My first news editor on the Post was Ralph Jarvis, seen at work on an Atex computer, left. The elderly man on the right is Stan Gray, one of the Post subs at the time.

As can be seen, there was a weird drawing on the back of the above sketches, and here it is. This also includes a note to say estate agent John Price called. Just another day in the office.

This is another John, but I can't recall his surname. He took over as municipal reporter after Stephen Rowles left to go subbing.

Another staffer, whose first name eludes me, she was the daughter of the city engineer, Arthur Clayton.

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