Thu | Dec 7, 2023

Ewart Walters remembered as ‘a journalist’s journalist’

Published:Saturday | July 29, 2023 | 12:07 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer
Ewart Walters
Ewart Walters

Noted journalist, author, diplomat and historian, Ewart ‘Fats’ Walters, has died. He was 83 years old.

His death in Ottawa, Canada, was announced by his daughter-in-law, Sue Walters. No cause of death has been given.

Walters, who was a graduate of Calabar High School, was born in Clarendon, but moved to Kingston early in his life.

He received two degrees in journalism from Carleton University and, in the mid-1960s, served as the editor-in-chief of The Carleton, the student newspaper on campus at the time.

He was the first black editor in the paper’s history. Prior to coming to Canada, Walters wrote for Public Opinion, The Gleaner and The Daily News in Jamaica.

In addition to his extensive journalism career, Walters served as both a diplomat for the Jamaican Government and as a federal public servant with the Canadian International Development Agency.

During his time with The Gleaner, he served as education reporter and later parliamentary reporter before becoming the founding news editor of The Daily News.

Walters headed The Daily News for several years before migrating to Canada. He worked with the Jamaican High Commission in Ottawa. After leaving the high commission, he founded The Spectrum, a black newspaper in Ottawa.

‘Fats’, as he was known to his colleagues, moulded the careers of a number of young journalists in Jamaica while mentoring several others.

An inquisitive mind

Claude Robinson, associate teaching fellow at the Mona School of Business and Management at The University of the West Indies and a close friend of Walters, said that from their days at Calabar, he was “a journalist’s journalist”.

“He believed in getting the story right. He was a journalist through and through with an inquisitive mind. He always wanted to find out what was going on and to tell the story as it was,” Robinson told The Gleaner.

According to Robinson, Walters’ impact on journalism in Jamaica was evidenced in the group of young journalists whom he taught the craft on the job.

“He taught young journalists to follow the values of journalism – accuracy, credibility and truth-telling,” said Robinson.

Joan Golding, who worked with Walters at The Daily News and later with him at the High Commission in Ottawa, described him as a “wonderful editor” who taught her the craft of journalism.

“His death is both a personal and professional loss for me. I recently spoke with him about several projects I am doing and sought his guidance,” she said.

Golding pointed out that she worked with him on several major projects while at the High Commission in Ottawa.

“His focus was on the upliftment of poor people and this is reflected in the projects that he undertook as well as in his writing,” she said.

Ben Brodie, journalist and publisher, who worked with Walters at The Gleaner, described him as a model journalist and freedom fighter.

“His weapons were words and facts,” said Brodie.

Brodie said he recently was in touch with Walters about inviting him to Jamaica to have informal talks with Jamaican journalists so he could impart his knowledge to them.

Lloyd Wilks, head of the Diaspora Unit in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, who was stationed in the Jamaica Consulate in Toronto, worked with Walters on a number of projects during their time in the government service.

He expressed shock at his passing.

Walters was publisher of The Spectrum for nearly 30 years – from 1984 to 2013, during which time he played a central role in covering and connecting black communities throughout the Ottawa-Gatineau region. The Spectrum was known as a robust and reliable advocate for the interests of black Canadians in the capital, including Vincent Gardner, an unarmed Jamaican-Canadian man who was shot by an Ottawa police officer in August 1991, and died six weeks later in hospital. The Spectrum would lead the coverage of the Gardner case in the city, and the controversies that ensued from it.

Walters published a number of books including We Come From Jamaica which traced the history of Jamaica’s development from 1937 to 1962.