Tim Hodgson is the new consulting editor of The Royal Gazette. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Tim Hodgson is the new consulting editor of The Royal Gazette. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

The Royal Gazette parted company with its acting editor, Jeremy Deacon, this week — but exactly how and why it happened remains unclear.

He had occupied the role since the resignation of Bill Zuill last December.

In a press release issued on Monday, The Royal Gazette announced that Tim Hodgson, former editor of the Mid-Ocean News, which folded in 2009, had been named ‘editorial consultant’. The Gazette’s headline described this as ‘the top editorial role’ at the paper. 

The press release states: “Mr Hodgson’s consultancy period will last until the directors of The Royal Gazette Limited appoint a new full-time editor.”

Mr Deacon, who is married to a Bermudian, has declined to comment to the Sun. His Twitter page on Monday contained the following statements: “I am no longer with the rg” and “so my first day ever of being unemployed cannot wait to get blogging and tweeting!”

On Facebook yesterday, Mr Deacon wrote: “Well, first full day of unemployment. Feels odd…” And when asked “You’re unemployed?” Mr Deacon responded: “Yes, got the boot… very long story and cannot tell it right now.”

We reached out to Jonathan Howes, Bermuda Press Holdings CEO, and he told the Bermuda Sun: “I can’t comment on employment matters between staff and the company. I do hope it works out for Jeremy. He’s a good journalist and he’ll come out standing at the end.”

Interference?

He added: “ZBM reported that this was in some way related to the comments Marc Bean made in the House [alleging politically-motivated editorial interference by directors/managers of the company]. That is not factual. I will file a complaint. I’ve already been on the phone today with ZBM because we’re pretty disappointed. They want to make a story sensational because a change in the leadership of an organization.”

Carla Zuill, acting news director for ZBM, told us: “The ZBM newsroom stands by its story.”

The media rumour mill, meanwhile, has been in overdrive and the suggestion that there has been disagreement between Mr Deacon and the company’s directors over editorial matters is a persistent theme. But Mr Howes is dismissing this notion. 

Blogger Chris Gibbons, who runs Kaleidoscope Media and formerly worked for The Royal Gazette, provided some insight this week on his Breezeblog.

He wrote: “In an email response to questions by Breezeblog about why Mr. Deacon was dismissed, Mr Howes said: ‘We found a qualified Bermudian to fulfill the role. Mr Deacon’s employment with the Royal Gazette did not end as a result of disagreements over editorial control.’ He also said: ‘We treat all employment matters as confidential. I have no further comment’.”

The final line of Monday’s official statement, quoting Mr Howes, reads: “I would like to thank Jeremy for his commitment and support in recent months.”

Some editorial staff at the paper were surprised by the announcement and upset at the nature of Mr Deacon’s departure. “I’m dumbfounded,” one told us. 

“I really didn’t see this coming.”

Another source close to the paper told us that Mr Deacon was under “enormous pressure”.

Monday’s press release extolled the virtues of Mr Hodgson. Mr Howes said: “Tim is a hugely experienced senior editor with a solid understanding of the print and digital demands within the business and wider industry. His mandate includes helping to better align the newspaper’s print and on-line strategies as The Royal Gazette, like all media operations, adapts to the digital era.”

Mr Hodgson edited the Mid-Ocean News from 1989 until it ceased publication in 2009. He has worked with Bernews and also helped former UBP Cabinet minister Clarence Terceira compile his memoirs. 

Mr Hodgson stated in the press release: “It is a tremendous privilege to be given the opportunity to become the editorial consultant for The Royal Gazette, a newspaper which enjoys a well-deserved reputation for the high quality of its journalism.”


• Story originally posted on July 8, 2013 at 6:40pm.