Eric Gordon, editor and founder of the Camden New Journal, dies at 89
He kept on working into his 80s
05 April, 2021 — By Richard Osley
ERIC Gordon – the founding editor of the Camden New Journal – passed away this evening (Monday) after a short illness.
The 89-year-old had been our only editor since the newspaper’s formation in 1982. Last year, he celebrated the 2,000th issue with staff and the team won three more awards at the Regional Press Awards.
As editor of one of the last independent titles in the UK, he was proud of the newspaper’s freedom from large groups and championed a co-op style structure, warning that papers would struggle to survive if they had to answer to faraway group executives or distant shareholders seeking dividends each year.
The CNJ had been formed out of strike action involving the staff at the original Camden Journal – the title was taken on at a peppercorn price as part of the settlement for industrial action. It grew from there and remains regarded as one of the best local papers in the UK.
Even before the creation of the CNJ and his relentless drive to keep on working into his 80s, Eric had lived a life like few others.
In 1967, he spent two years under house arrest in China with his first wife and son. He had been accused of being a spy by the Chinese authorities when he was found with notes about the Cultural Revolution while working in a commune.
He planned to write a book, but found himself being held for two years.
As editor of the CNJ, he never took no for an answer and set the paper up to scrutinise public authorities, as well as the big businesses looking to wield power in Camden.
There was a list of successful newspaper campaigns and awards, while generations of young reporters benefited from his mentorship. Up until his final weeks, he was still authoring his uncompromising One Week With John Gulliver column.
“Unlike other newspaper publishers, the aims and principles set out in our Articles of Association at Company’s House point to our adherence to the idealism of the 19th-century radicals who believed in the concept of the common ownership of “commerce, agriculture and industry,” Mr Gordon said last year.
“We believe fervently in the powers of democracy and debate – that is why we pioneered the well-known letters pages from residents, unmatched in our opinion, and led several public campaigns to save University College Hospital in the 1990s from closure, a similar fate for the Whittington Hospital A&E, and support most council tenants who opposed a plan to transfer them to an outside management team.”
See Thursday’s New Journal for a special tribute edition – and updates online through the week
Please send your tributes and memories of Eric Gordon to firstname.lastname@example.org
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