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Tag Archives: Windhoek Observer

This month an icon of African journalism that I once briefly worked with, died. Hannes Smith born March 17, 1933, died August 5th, 2008 at age 75. He was affectionately called Smithie, an English nickname I think he would have preferred over the Afrikaans version of Smittie which many people used.

I knew him as the founding editor of the Windhoek Observer but he always thought of himself as its chief reporter — and indeed he was. My consultancy, Intelligent Ideas, converted his paper to desktop publishing in the late 80’s (early in 1989 as best I can recall).

He was a bright articulate man who didn’t mince his words. Working only from his notes and memory, he dictated stories to his Compugraphic operator to the precise column length required to fill a news hole. Something only he was sure of. We had to wait for the galleys to be played out on bromide, cut into columns and stripped up on the tables to witness the magic of his mental casting. He did this for years before we had write-to-fit text editors. Read More »