Today I learned The Santiago Times founder Steve Anderson died.
I could have softened that lede with past participle, passive voice or punctuation, but Steve would have hated that – he was passionate about his lean sentences.
He was passionate about a lot of more important things too. Steve exemplified what I believe to be the two most important attributes in journalism. One, he gave what voice he had to the powerless. To those in power, he did his utmost to be a pain in the a**.
He taught me both the word and the art of ‘bird-dogging’.
Steve was larger than life. He was many things to many people. To me he was a rare combination of dreamer and doer. He was a dealer and an operator too.
Yup, he could be infuriating at times though, ultimately, he inspired me.
He was a tireless campaigner for human rights. He never gave up on his vision of a better world, nor his belief he could contribute to it coming about.
And he achieved much. Steve carved out a life and a purpose for himself in Chile and built a beautiful family and home in the country’s rural south. He opened that home to me, as he did many others. He also created opportunities.
Steve founded the institution which gave me – like so many other reporters from around the world – a first shot at the practice of journalism. After a few short years, he gave me my first crack at leadership too. That taste of responsibility – and the trust that Steve placed in me as a young and still-quite-silly-fella – was thrilling. But I was far from the only 20-something to experience it. There were many others and many of us made the most of that chance to launch our careers in journalism.
Those years at The Santiago Times were the making of me professionally. They were also some of the best years of my life. It was a privilege to work with so many talented and fired-up people from around the world. Many of them went on to become my good friends at the time and others remain my best friends. I still think of all of them often and now I have places to stay and people to see around the world.
Steve, that was largely due to the opportunities you helped create for me.
For that I owe you.
Vale Steve, the world has lost a fine bird-dog.
The author is a former editor at The Santiago Times, and is based in Australia.