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Passing of David Gladwell

Posted by ken On March - 15 - 2010

Unfortunately another of our STW mates, former journalist – DAVID GLADWELL – has taken his Final journey.”

The funeral was on Tuesday, 16 March 2010 at 11.30am – Karrakatta’s Norfolk Chappel

Please pass on this news to your other STW mates.

Regards June Holmes


David Miles Gladwell

Former News Editor Terry Spence reports that David was a terrific sub-editor producing the evening news bulletins for STW Channel 9.

David started as an ‘on-the-road’ journalist, later became Producer of Channel 9’s nightly news bulletins and finally Deputy News Director before moving to the Government Media Office.

On learning of the sad news, Dr Peter Harries said that, “He thought David was a most innovative journalist and a really good bloke.”

Peter documented in his PhD thesis that David Gladwell produced two documentaries on location, China – The Open Door and The New Invasion. During his interview with Peter, David said that, “He recalled the ‘…shoe-string type operation…’ that was an attempt to produce relevant current affairs shows and gave credit to Laurie Kiernan for his personal interest in production of those programs and said, ‘Laurie really encouraged documentaries as well… The biggest one I did was ‘Prospects for Peace in the Middle East’… I came back and went to China in ‘73.”

An eulogy to David Gladwell by Terry Spence

David Gladwell arrived in Perth from England as a young journalist in 1967. In the same year he gained a position in the Channel 9 newsroom.

Before David arrived in 1967 he’d actually headed off to Australia a couple of years earlier. Not on his own, though. His brother Alan was with him . . . both of them travelling astride a powerful 650cc Triumph Thunderbird motorbike. With a sidecar attached.

Across Europe . . . Eastern Europe . . . the Middle East . . . the Far East. Some of the places they traversed you wouldn’t go near today. For that matter, they were somewhat risky back in the 1960s , . . but for other reasons.

They arrived in India . . . minus the sidecar. Alan seems to remember it fell off somewhere in Iran.

David loved India. So he stayed there. Hopped off the motorbike while Alan continued onwards to Australia. David stayed . . . probably because of India’s oriental allure . . . possibly because after travelling endless miles over desert roads seated on a motorbike he’d just got saddle sore.

So there he was in India. He got a job. A job with the British embassy in New Delhi and stayed for a year, returned to England and a year or so after was in Perth.

At Channel Nine David rapidly established himself as a journalist of quality. At first on the road each day as a reporter . . . later as a senior staff member overseeing the nightly news bulletins. What always stood out was his attention to detail. He was painstaking in his efforts to get a story right. Not just his story but those of others.

There’s a role in a television newsroom . . . the role of producer . . . that is very much akin to that of the sub editor in a newspaper’s newsroom. Journalists write their stories and submit them to the producer or sub-editor for checking. Checking for accuracy . . . grammar . . . style . . . always keeping a wary eye out for that which might be unbalanced, or worse, might libel somebody.

David as a Producer was excellent. He was something to watch when he came across a story that was particularly “messy”. Scratching away with his pencil at a script . . . “rearranging the furniture” it was called. It was to see someone who worked meticulously to make sure that in the end it would be right. He had a fine mind. He was very well read, highly intelligent with unfailing good manners . . . and these qualities were balanced with a good sense of humour. He particularly liked the idea of newsroom pranks . . . and there were plenty of them. He was always a contributor with ideas for: “What would the annual April Fool’s Day Joke be?” Remember them. A ‘trick” television news story . . . put to air on April the first each year . . . designed to fool the audience into believing it was actually true.

But when it was time for to get really serious, David was a man we could send for. Documentary making, for instance. We sent him to the Middle East to produce a documentary on that place which is forever troubled and in the news.

And we sent him to China in what for Channel Nine was something of a coup. Mao Tse Tung’s Cultural Revolution was in its dying stages . . . there was a slight crack opening in the bamboo curtain. David, with the help of a China expert at W.A. University, and through extensive negotiations, managed to squeeze through that crack and gain approval to enter China.

With cameraman Fred Miles he set off to have a look . . . the first commercial television station in Australia to be granted entry to that closed, secretive community. They brought back for their documentary . . . THE OPEN DOOR . . . pictures not seen before . . . great scenes of the millions clad in blue boiler suits, carrying Mao’s Little Red Book and all riding bicycles. Intriguing stuff.

And the Chinese found them intriguing. Fred Miles at first couldn’t figure out why they would gather around, smiling and pointing at them. Was it their camera and sound gear? Perhaps it was their extreme height. They were both very tall men. And then it dawned on Fred. What intrigued them most was David’s very red hair. Obviously a rare thing in Mao’s China where millions at that time rarely got a really good look at Europeans.

After television there was government service. David joined the Government Media Office . . . at one time serving as press secretary to a cabinet minister and deputy premier and later as head of Public Affairs at SECWA – then the state’s electricity utility.

Retirement followed but it wasn’t the end of work altogether. During this time his editing skills were also usefully employed, part-time, in various publications and in books others were writing.

David Gladwell passed away on March 9 2010.

One Response to “Passing of David Gladwell”

  1. jan barrie says:

    Goodbye dear friend – I miss you! Love, Jan.

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