Journalist Crosskill murdered
-- region-wide tributes By Rickey Singh
Guyana Chronicle
June 8, 2002

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BRIDGETOWN -- Hugh Crosskill, one of the finest journalists of the Caribbean region, was murdered yesterday morning under conflicting circumstances in his homeland, Jamaica.

As the Jamaica police were yesterday probing the circumstances of the death of the 47-year-old regionally-famous broadcast journalist, reputed to have had, in the words of Trinidad and Tobago's Ken Gordon, "one of the truly special voices on the region's airwaves", tributes were pouring in from colleagues across the Caribbean.

Reported to have had a personal problem as a consumer of illegal drugs within recent years, reports out of Kingston suggested that he was shot and killed around 6:30 a.m. by a security guard at a private business enterprise during a "tussle".

Another report that could not be verified at the time of writing was that the tragedy may have occurred at a rehabilitation centre.

Survived by a wife and two children, Crosskill was a deeply admired media professional with a strong commitment to the Caribbean and much respected for his analytical mind and fearlessness.

As Editor-in-Chief and President of the 'Nation' newspaper of Barbados, Harold Hoyte, said in paying tribute to the skills and expertise of Crosskill: "I am deeply saddened. It is such an awful waste of a life characterised by his excellent contributions to Caribbean journalism."

"The fact that he had contributed to the poisoning of a good life by his lifestyle in later years does not in any way diminish from the excellence, the quality of his professional contributions..."

Similar sentiments were to be echoed by friends and professional colleagues across the CARICOM region, among them top media leaders, such as the former Chairman of the Caribbean News Agency (CANA) when Hugh headed CANARadio, Ken Gordon, Chairman of the Caribbean Communications Network (CCN).

"Crosskill", said Gordon, "was an outstanding professional broadcaster. His was one of the truly special voices on the region's airwaves. He had returned to the Caribbean from the BBC because of his love for this region. It is indeed a tragedy that his life should be prematurely ended in this way."

For Delano Franklin, a close personal friend of many years and currently chief adviser to Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, Crosskill's death "is an irreparable loss to journalism in Jamaica, the Caribbean and indeed the world."

"He will always be remembered for his professionalism and commitment to the region...The sad twist in his life that caused so much pain for family, friends and colleagues (a reference to his consumption of illicit drugs), somehow did not affect the quality of his thinking whenever it became necessary for him to examine, report and analyse on issues of national and regional importance..."

Also fondly declaring "Hugh as the finest of them (journalists) all", with deep sadness in his voice, was Paget deFreitas, Editor-in-Chief of the Jamaica Observer newspaper.

"It is not easy to speak about Crosskill's outstanding contributions without bearing in mind a life that tragically went wrong at a critical moment. But for all of us who knew him, he was a role model in professional journalism and especially in the field of broadcast journalism. His death is a tragedy widely shared."

Editor-in-Chief of the Guyana Chronicle, Sharief Khan, who had also worked as a CANARadio and BBC Caribbean Service Guyana correspondent with Crosskill, recalled his "strength of character in pursuit of investigative journalism...I well recall, for example how, along with the regional journalist Rickey Singh (also a former correspondent of CANA), they had traced to Cayenne, capital of French Guiana, the ex-soldier who was wanted for the assassination of Dr. Walter Rodney, Gregory Smith.

"Crosskill was a great and much admired journalist. It is a real tragedy that he should have died as he did at such a young age".

The current Chief Operations Officer of the Caribbean Media Corporation, Jamaica-born regional journalist, Gary Allen, thinks that Hugh, with whom he worked as a Kingston-based correspondent for the BBC when Crosskill headed the BBC's Caribbean Service, also offered his warm tribute, almost choking with emotion:

"I think he was one of the most knowledgeable and courageous journalists of the Caribbean. He possessed an incisive mind, he was fearless and always revealed his commitment to the Caribbean and would be remembered as having one of the best cricketing voices anywhere".

If I may add, for now, my own brief comment on the tragedy that has befallen Hugh Crosskill, a friend and dear colleague with whom I had the pleasure of covering many national and regional events, I only want to record that it was my own good fortune to have known such a fine journalist and citizen of our Caribbean.