Thursday, May 07, 2020

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Retired senior photo editor of the Jamaica Observer Michael Gordon died suddenly at his home in St Andrew yesterday, sending the media, corporate, and political fraternities into shock. He was 67.

Gordon served a lifetime as photojournalist, earning several awards in recognition of his talent and mastery behind the camera.

His journey with the Jamaica Observer started in the nascent days of the organisation, before even one copy rolled off the press in March 1993. Gordon can be remembered as joshing that he was employee “001”. He was recruited from Jamaica Information Service and his photographs have appeared in the various publications of the newspaper down the years.

His has been a career that developed many promising photographers and photo technicians, who remain eternally grateful for the opportunities he afforded them, among them photographer extraordinaire Bryan Cummings, who predeceased him in March this year.

Gordon's lens has captured several portentous moments in the nation's history; among them the visits of world leaders including Nelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth II and Barack Obama; Ray Charles onstage in Kingston, and the crowning of Lisa Hanna as Miss Jamaica World in 1993; Brian Lara's iconic 375-run record in Antigua in 1994; the charred interior of the Carib cinema when it went up in flames in 1996; the doodling of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller in Parliament in 2005; and the funerals of some of the country's most prominent leaders, among them prime ministers Michael Manley, Hugh Shearer, and Edward Seaga, as well as those of cultural icons Louise Bennett-Coverley, Olive Lewin, and Dennis Brown.

Gordon was appointed a member of the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer in 2016 for his body of work in the field.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in tribute, described Gordon as meticulous and an absolute professional, adding, “He exuded a sense of pride and passion for the profession of photojournalism which will not be forgotten.”

Leader of the Opposition People's National Party Dr Peter Phillips hailed Gordon for his outstanding work, noting that his years of service “add to the irreplaceable archive of significant moments in the nation's history captured on camera”.

Jamaica Observer Executive Editor - Special assignments Desmond Allen said Gordon was “truly the photographer's photographer. He gave the Jamaica Observer the dream start it needed as photo editor when our first edition hit the streets in March 1993. As founding editor, I can attest that Michael's contribution to the growth and development of the Observer has been decisive in creating one of the most lively and exciting newspapers this side of the 20th century. He easily took his place among the handful of great Jamaican photographers, never seeing the craft as a tool for bread and butter, but as a vehicle for national development because he believed in the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. Observer editors could rest assured that only the very best work would be produced, often surpassing that of his international colleagues from media outlets far greater resourced and equipped. And now he'll become a photographer to the gods. Rest in peace, Michael, but send us a selfie with Junior Dowie, Errol Harvey, Errol Gibbs, Winston Sill, Ken Ramsay, Bryan Cummings, et al.”

Executive Editor — Publications Vernon Davidson recalled Gordon's passion for journalism. “He was what I call a real newsman, someone who could smell a story and would stop at nothing to get it,” Davidson said.

“I recall the dedication, patience and attention for detail that he demonstrated each time we were on assignment across the country. Those traits contributed significantly to the many awards he won, as he captured some of this country's historic and challenging moments.”

“We all mourned with him when he lost the love of his life, his wife Angela, last year, and now we are left to mourn his sudden passing. My condolence to his sons Daniel and Sean and the other members of his family.”

Observer Editor-at-Large HG Helps also remembered Gordon as a meticulous photographer.

“Mikey was the epitome of commitment and dedication — never one to 'duck' an assignment, no matter how insignificant it would seem to others.

“We were part of that historic editorial brigade that started the preparatory work for the birth of the Jamaica Observer in late 1992 and remained close ever since. He will go down in my history book as the finest individual to have held a camera in Jamaica.”

For his part, Senior Associate Editor - News Pete Sankey said: “Michael Gordon was one of those personalities that you either love or hate. He was a solid craftsman who was excellent at his trade, and was always pushing for excellent work — wanting the best picture to be used in the newspaper.”

He added that Gordon's professionalism and diligence to the task were to be emulated. “Michael's memories will live on, and I am happy he made it right with our good Lord shortly after the passing of his beloved wife and eventually got baptised.”

Editor-at-Large Arthur Hall shared that, “Gordon was not a reporter, but he taught me reporting... from as far back as 1989 at the Jamaica Record.”

Racquel Porter, 2019 Press Association of Jamaica journalist of the year, said, “I still can't believe. I enjoyed going on assignments with Mr G, especially while I was roving; not just because he was meticulous, but because I was looking forward to story time. MG always had a story to tell the driver and me. Some of the stories were life lessons, while some were about his adventurous encounters during his young days. It was a pleasure to work with the best.”

“You have to come with your 'A' game around Michael Gordon,” press secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister Naomi Francis said. “He was about shot composition... and respecting the process.” She, too, shared her interactions with the giant of a personality she remembered.

Journalist Erica Virtue remembered Gordon's spirit and the way he was able to work at “getting the shot”. She said she truly admired the way he did his job and contributed to telling the story, whatever the assignment.

Local film-maker Lennie Little-White described Gordon's passing as “a great loss” and spoke of their many interactions over the years.

Jennifer Esty-Davis, concessionaire at the Jamaica Observer, recalls Gordon as “a gentleman” and someone she admired. “His interaction with the staff was always interesting as he kept them on their Ps and Qs. He was a man that wanted his knife and fork and his water set out,” she said as she shared from among their exchanges.

His colleagues also recall his passion for the harmonica, which he played in tribute to many of his dear friends at home-going services. His selection of well-loved hymns on the “mouth organ” warmed many hearts as they mourned.

Gordon is survived by his sons Sean and Daniel; his mother Florizel; sisters Pansy, Marcia, Karlene and Damaris; and brother Marlon.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at




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