A man in the know – Bolander editor Carolyn Frost penned these words at the 2012 retirement celebration of Brian Joss, and the sentiments hold true for his recent passing.
Just over seven years ago, I met the inimitable Brian Joss when I joined the team at Cape Community Newspapers.
Initially (as I think was commonly the case with newcomers), I was a little intimidated by him: his brusque mannerisms; the broad and uncompromising strokes across the proofing pages, illuminating silly errors or inaccuracies; and his rather stern demeanour.
As time passed, I became more aware and appreciative of his immense store of knowledge and instinct for what was newsworthy; his bullsh*t barometer and ability to cut to the quick of a story, or of someone’s character; and of his vast experience and ability to extract the salient details from a huge, complicated set of facts and opinion.
Behind the stern expression lies a wry, biting sense of humour and an appreciation for the wide range of personalities and temperaments of his many colleagues, and the sure understanding of how to draw the best out people – encouraging us all occasionally with words of recognition of a job well done, or alternately a gruff admonition of shabby work, along with a couple of helpful pointers to change direction.
His weekly book reviews revealed a mind that clearly enjoyed being challenged.
Motoring reviews were so much more than a listing of boring specs and rehashed phrases. Instead, we were taken along on his journeys around the Peninsula, out into the Winelands and beyond.
Consumer rights were a passion, and no stone was left unturned in his tenacious take on the follies and foibles of those who make a living ripping off the vulnerable (or gullible) in his Off my Trolley.
He would always make the time to take a phone call when a desperate or anxious or confused journalist called to ask for advice; and when a word of praise was uttered, it was the real thing.
I’m sure I speak for all of us, when I say I shall miss Brian Joss. He has a been a rock in stormy waters, a beacon, a clear-headed newsman who never compromised on the ethics so vital to our profession, a mentor to countless fledgling journalists, and an unshakable force in the industry.