Joel Nanton, the chair of the Department of Journalism and Media at COSTAATT, passed away yesterday at the age of 47—after a three-year battle with illness. Wired868 joins the rest of the media community in expressing condolences to his wife, Hollene, and their three children, as well as to his family and friends.
Nanton is a former journalist, columnist and editor who worked at the Trinidad Newsday, Guardian and Express newspapers, during a spell in the mainstream media that lasted 14 years.
Nanton’s humility, work ethic, integrity, kindness and pleasant demeanour would surely not be forgotten by anyone who crossed paths with him. If you had to pick one person to join you in the trenches, Nanton would be your guy.
Nanton is one of two media stalwarts to pass away this weekend. Trinidad Guardian photographer Anthony Harris also died, after being the victim of an alleged hit and run while cycling near to the President’s House at the Queen’s Park Savannah.
Harris was a regular feature on the sidelines at sport events around the country and will be missed for his tireless efforts and quiet dignity.
I knew them both, although my friendship with Joel predates our subsequent adventures in the media.
I first met Joel in form one at St Mary’s College and I cannot imagine a more self-effacing yet so obviously gifted young man. He was a very talented sportsman, particularly in the fields of football and cricket.
We all expected him to take the mantle left by recently graduated CIC football icons like Kona Hislop, Kevin Moze and Lyndon Andrews; but, as much as he loved football, it came a distant third to his obligations to his church and education.
Joel, who came from a large family, followed his elder brother, David, into the media. Just as his younger brother, Sampson—I knew him initially by his family name, Amos—would later follow him into the profession.
In retrospect, I wonder if Joel influenced my own path. He was a cub reporter at the Newsday when I had my first job as a very temporary enumerator for the Ministry of Labour in 1994, and observed what I felt to be a disingenuous attempt by the government of the day to fiddle with unemployment statistics.
I rang Joel with the story and he did it justice. Months later, I too joined the profession—as I became a trainee reporter at the Trinidad Guardian.
One time, Joel and I were at the same press conference and, on my way back to the office, I realised I screwed up my recording of the event. We were at rival newspapers at the time, but Joel allowed me to transcribe from his notes! What a friend!
Not that he let me forget it. Just as he teased me for years about waking up at 2am to find me still playing his Nintendo Duck Hunt game, back in form two—a period when we would both spend a week at each other’s home during the school holidays.
Last year, when Wired868 launched its inaugural Write Start competition for secondary school children, I was pleased to have Joel as one of our judges. Just as he included our website on COSTAAT’s internship programme for journalism students.
Joel never invited attention to himself or sung his own praises. But everyone who knew him could have no doubt that he was always the gold standard in any endeavour he chose.
I have never met a better person.
Farewell, Joel. If I am lucky, I will see you again.
Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read a tribute to Joel Nanton by the faculty of the COSTAATT Ken Gordon School of Journalism.