OBITUARY: Journalist and educator Gavin Stewart

2014-02-19 00:00

RENOWNED journalism advocate, journalist and founder of the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) Professor Gavin Stewart died on Monday.

Stewart also worked at The Witness during his long and productive journalism career, which spanned more than five decades.

Sanef released a statement mourning the loss of Stewart and described him as a well-known and liked member of Sanef. “Even in the week before his death he was both writing his columns and organising Sanef’s council meeting in Cape Town. He was an energetic member of Sanef from its inception, supporting Sanef ideals and contributing his time to ensure Sanef policy was in line with its journalistic ideals of quality and accuracy.”

Veteran journalist Ray Louw said of Stewart in a tribute: “Throughout his career Gavin Stewart made an enormous contribution to newspapers and newspaper journalism in the capacities of reporter, journalist, editor, lecturer in journalism and as head of the Journalism Department at Rhodes University. Latterly, he had been an independent editorial consultant.

“In those roles and as a founder member of the South African National Editors’ Forum [Sanef] he contributed to the maintenance and promotion of high professional standards of newspaper journalism by contributing to discussions and decisions on ethical standards and other issues affecting the conduct of newspapers and journalists, and the gathering and publication of information. His sage and well-balanced advice always made an impact on other journalists and members of Sanef.”

Stewart studied typography at the University of the Witwatersrand (1966-7) where he received a Diploma in Typography and Design. A decade later, he completed his Honours in Communication at the University of South Africa.

Stewart served at a number of newspapers in South Africa, including the then Natal Witness, Golden City Post, the Northern Reporter, Sunday Times and the Rand Daily Mail and later, after a number of years teaching journalism, he was editor of the Daily Dispatch in East London for 13 years.

Stewart lectured journalism at Natal Technikon (now DUT — Durban University of Technology) and at Rhodes University where he was the head of the Journalism Department.

After leaving the editorship of the Daily Dispat ch, Stewart became the head of the print department at the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism in Johannesburg.

Until his death, he was an editorial consultant, who gave of his experience and knowledge.

Louw said, “It can certainly be said of Gavin that he demonstrated impeccable ethics and craft excellence, which have had a hugely positive effect on journalistic standards and public life.”

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