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Bermuda's Emmy winner

The Premier’s new press secretary Glenn Jones, a former Royal Gazette reporter, holds the Emmy he recieved while reporting for Fox News in Boston.

Award-winning former Royal Gazette reporter Glenn Jones has gone from poacher to gamekeeper having swapped a role which saw him scrutinise the Premier to one where he helps pen his words and polish his image.

After picking up an Emmy for his TV work in Boston, he’s now the Premier’s right hand man just as the election approaches.

May was a big month for Mr. Jones. Just days after landing a plum job as the Premier’s Press Secretary, he found out he had won an Emmy for his journalism.

Yet the modest 30-year-old said he was equally surprised by both accolades which came out of the blue.

No one can doubt he has earned his spurs having been at the sharp end of news gathering for the best part of a decade.

He went straight into TV news reporting in America after graduating from college in 1999.

Worked his way up, he relished opportunities to be creative — one Halloween story at the time of the release of the blockbuster ‘Blair Witch Project’ had him wandering scary woods at night.

“People loved it,” he said. “Fun but certainly not serious journalism.”

Knocking on the doors of loved ones who had just lost a family member was the hardest part of the job.

“It always came up and I never got used to it,” he said. “They didn’t have to say no twice, if it was a no, I walked away.”

Hard-nosed news editors would sometimes push him to try again. “In some cases the people who didn’t take no for an answer from a grief-stricken person were celebrated in the news room, but I never quite understood that. But that doesn’t happen everywhere.”

Working up the career ladder, he gravitated back in Boston — where he had studied journalism — beginning on the early shift with its rigorous routine — up at 3.30 a.m., in at 4.30 and on air at six.

It was tough as Boston was suffering its coldest winter in 100 years but the huge number of stories needing chasing from the following night kept him busy enough, particularly with three deadlines a day.

“And when there is breaking news the deadline is now,” he said. “You go with what you have.”

Another massive challenge was the competitive nature of the Boston news media. “There are six or seven local TV news stations and it is also a market covered by the national media. And it’s a big newspaper town.

“So there was constantly a fight to ‘get the get’ — there is no way you can be 100 percent successful at that.

“But it was a place I always wanted to work having studied there — we had watched how media worked in that town. I think it truly is one of the best media towns in the US if not the world. “The audience is very educated, the city is very cosmopolitan. It was a good place to live and learn.”

Beating the competition would sometimes take a ‘bit of hustle’ or ingenuity.

But mostly it involved persistence. Suspects on the run aren’t particularly keen on media interviews.

“So you might talk to the neighbours who might mention the gym he worked at,” Mr. Jones said. “Someone down there might tell you where his mother lives. You go to that town and you knock on that door and there’s the suspect.”

A door slammed in the face becomes part of the story.

So would the Police be alerted? “No, they would just watch the five o’clock news. Sometimes we would be a couple of steps ahead of the Police.”

But coming face-to-face with hardened, cornered criminals can have its hazards. “There were times I should have been fearful but wasn’t until after the fact because when you are in the hunt you are not really thinking about yourself.

“You have a photojournalist with you which is great because you are together. But when you are in pursuit, you have your competitive juices are flowing and someone’s at the station urging you on. Deadline is approaching and you do what you have to do.

“I think sometimes that’s why TV reporters get a bad rap because they think about the consequences later. I was never attacked physically but I was yelled at lots. It should be in the job description.”

Living in an ultra-liberal city but working for an ultra-conservative news organisation like Fox didn’t help — even though he said the local Boston Fox was a far different animal from its national network. “When they see the three letters people don’t make the separation.”

But some of the attention was far more welcome. He was even nominated as one of Boston’s most eligible bachelors, by tabloid ‘The Improper Bostonian’.

He will never forget working on a Hurricane Katrina story where evacuees were flown to emergency housing at an airforce base on Cape Cod.

“My job was to meet the flight,” he said. “We covered it live. These people were getting off the plane with nothing but the clothes on their backs and there was a long line of Massachusetts people welcoming them so warmly.

“You could see how relieved they were to have some open arms to run to because they had just left so much horror behind them.”

He still keeps in contact with one of the families. “Because I was so personally touched by the story. I think everybody who was watching news in Massachusetts that day was so uplifted. It was hard not to be connected to the story even in a situation when maybe you shouldn’t be.”

And then there was the story about brainy children from all over the nation converging on Boston for a highly cerebral Scrabble tournament.

“They take their Scrabble very seriously,” Mr. Jones said. “There were about 200 kids in a huge room and all you could hear was Scrabble tiles being tossed around. It was a fun story. We submitted it for an Emmy.”

That entry for feature TV news reporting for the New England region, beat out fierce competition from all over Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. “I was surprised when it was nominated but I was floored when we won. I didn’t even go to the ceremony. We had been nominated before for a story we thought was better and we didn’t win. We had no hope for this one.”

Despite a successful three years in Boston he returned last year when his visa was due and a family member became sick. “But it also seemed like an interesting time to return,” he said. “The country was doing so well economically. There was political change that seemed to have people excited who I went to high school with.”

He saw contemporaries doing well in the world of finance. However, when he came back he found it was difficult to get his hands on all the opportunity as a lot of firms didn’t seem interested in his extensive TV journalism background. “I couldn’t even get an interview for some marketing jobs which was the path I was on. And then when I went to see (Royal Gazette editor) Bill Zuill he was like: ‘Can you start tomorrow?’ I said ‘I’ll be there’.”

It was the start of a realisation that the stereotypes hurled at The Royal Gazette were unfounded.

“It’s no secret the paper has a less than glowing reputation with some sections of the community who I talk to often.

“When I told people I might be doing this, many of them said they didn’t think I would last very long over there. They thought I would become frustrated and unhappy.

“But besides long hours, I wasn’t frustrated. I felt if I had a story I wanted to pursue I was given the time and rope I needed to pursue it. My time there was good. And while there I am certain I wrote some stories which weren’t flattering to the Premier and that’s why I was so surprised when he offered this opportunity. But I hope he felt the reporting was always fair — even if it was not flattering.”

Indeed when he got an e-mail to meet the Premier he assumed the worst.

“When I asked him what it was about he wouldn’t tell me. So then I thought he was going to gripe about a story — I didn’t have one in my mind but you know, pick one, there were a few.

“So I went with a little bit of chip on my shoulder because I thought I was going to have to defend myself. He said there are changes internally and would you be interested in joining? My jaw dropped open because I didn’t expect him to say that.”

Given ten days to mull it, Mr. Jones realised it was such a rare opportunity not to be missed.

“Any country in the world there’s basically one leader and one press secretary and one of those jobs is being offered to me,” he said. “It would be>ridiculous<$> to turn it down. It would be stupid!

“Since taking the job I expected some flak from other sections of the political stratosphere. But that did not happen. I had a great conversation with Michael Dunkley after accepting the job. He said some very flattering things.”

His local MP Cole Simons praised him face-to-face and in the House. “And I got a kiss from Patricia Gordon-Pamplin. I hope all this means they agree I am qualified to do the job well.”

Asked if he would agree to stay if the Government changed, he said: “I don’t imagine I could do the job for a different party and be fair to both.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean I have always been a supporter of the PLP but now my job requirement is that I am a supporter. My political view points really don’t matter to anybody except me. I am not saying I agree with the Premier 100 percent of the time. I don’t agree with myself 100 percent of the time.

“But the job requires that publicly I agree with the Premier 100 percent of the time and I will do that with all loyalty.”

Mr. Jones doesn’t have any political ambitions at the moment but is glad he’s thrown in his lot with Ewart Brown.

“I think this leader has some pretty good ideas,” he said. “If I can help execute them, I feel it fulfils a degree of patriotism I have within me.”

He now serves at the pleasure of the Premier who has already hired and replaced one press secretary in the space of six months. But he has enjoyed it so far even though it’s been hectic. In his first week the Chief of Staff was away, in the second Dame Lois died which truncated his night’s sleep as he alerted the radio news and began churning out press releases.

“It’s making me believe there is always going to be something. I am going to be working a lot.”

But it has its perks. His salary of $102,000 is public record — it’s the same as the last press secretary and we know that figure because Mr. Jones did the story.

“I like the job so far,” he said. “It’s hard. It’s long hours. It’s unpredictable. It’s unforgiving of mistakes. But those are all things I like because I was a reporter. You do the job until it’s done.”

Asked how he would feel about spinning information after a career of trying to dig out the truth, he said: “I haven’t had the job very long so I haven’t had to execute this scenario — so I guess I will have to see how I deal with that when it presents itself.

“But I think I can do the job with a complete dedication to the truth, it’s that simple. In that regard the job isn’t that much different from reporting,” he said. “My job is to communicate on behalf of the Premier to the public as clearly and concisely as possible with all due respect to the truth. And I think reporters — good ones — are tasked with doing the same sort of thing.”

But the wheels of Government grind much more slowly than in the world of journalism. “As a senior reporter, I never missed a deadline in my life,” he said. “In one case here I was setting a deadline for myself and it came and went four or five times.”

However, Mr. Jones concedes he is still learning the ropes and getting to know people. “It can only get better from here,” he said.

Next will be the hurly-burly of an election campaign, but he is relishing that prospect too. “The reason I took the job was it was going to be a unique challenge — an election campaign will be the epitome of that challenge. I am looking forward to it.”


Now 30, Glenn Jones got the bug for journalism at a career day at Berkeley and did summer jobs at Bermuda Broadcasting Company before being offered a TV reporting job in the United States in 1999 after studying journalism at Emerson College in Boston.

He began working in Springfield, Massachusetts, before doing a long stint in Fort Myers, Florida, where he made a mark for himself and won several Associated Press awards.

Then he returned to Boston, where he spent the last three years on Fox 25 before coming home in late 2006 where he became a senior reporter aThe Royal Gazette before joining the Government.