Editorial | The legacy of Barbara Gloudon
Jamaica lost a champion for truth and transparency with the passing of pioneering journalist, Barbara Gloudon, OD, OJ.
The gender barrier-breaking journalist, whose career in media, theatre and public relations spanned more than half a century, died in hospital on Wednesday after a period of illness, and mere days after the passing of her husband, Ancile. They were married in 1970.
Her death reverberated well beyond these shores as colleagues, fans and well-wishers took to social media to pay tribute. The expressions of condolence and remembrances that have been pouring in as news of her death has spread is an indication of how she managed to earn fondness from audiences across the island, as well as from the diaspora.
The St Elizabeth native got her start in journalism at this newspaper back in 1953, this fledgling reporter was no doubt fascinated by the big-city newsroom, and decided to make her mark. She moved through various positions with consummate skill and passion. Her eventual appointment as editor of The Gleaner’s evening edition, THE STAR, loudly heralded the fact that women journalists were not satisfied to function as mere beat reporters, but were urgently seeking to become part of the newsroom leadership and management.
By this promotion, Mrs Gloudon paved the way in journalism for other women. She broke the gender barrier and allowed others to get into what was essentially a boys’ club. All in all, she influenced and inspired generations of journalists, male and female.
POWER OF WORDS
In her STAR column ‘Stella Seh’, she demonstrated just how one could use the power of words to raise awareness on common bread-and-butter issues and, over time, the column matured into a ‘must read’ prism on national issues.
After leaving The Gleaner, Gloudon continued her journalism at RJR where she hosted the ‘Hotline’ talk show. Again, she was breaking new ground. There, she became memorable for her voice and her unique style, which meant taking a sober approach to discussing daily issues, often using the Jamaican language to express her views. Arguably, her contribution to civic discourse resulted in a better informed, more news-savvy audience.
Theatre fans have also been celebrating the contributions of Mrs Gloudon, who had been associated with the Little Theatre Movement (LTM) for many decades. Indeed, she was one of the creative forces behind the annual pantomime. She was invited to write the first script in 1976, which resulted in the memorable Moonshine Anancy, an ode to the moon landing. Thereafter, she became the creative force behind some of the most popular pieces of homegrown theatre. Excellent storyteller that she was, she steadily rose to become a prominent figure in Jamaican culture.
A devout Anglican, Mrs Gloudon also found time to anchor the weekly Sunday afternoon radio programme called ‘Think on these things’, about matters of concern to the church, and, before that, she was editor of The Jamaica Churchman, which also covered events and happenings within the Anglican community.
In her long 87-year life, Barbara Gloudon earned the respect of her peers, her community, her Government and her wide audience. She was inducted into the Press Association of Jamaica’s Hall of Fame in 2013, was awarded the Order of Jamaica in 1992, and received various awards and accolades for her work.
We can do so much more than consign this giant of a woman to the pages of history. We can honour Barbara Gloudon’s legacy by emulating her life of fairness, decency and integrity.