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The last editor-in-chief

Saturday, January 4, 2014

In retrospect she might have simply said she was privileged to be doing something she loved and as T&T has learned over the past 68 years, journalist and editor-in-chief Therese Mills was a living legend up to the time of her passing who did it well, head and shoulders above everyone else. T&T would have known her as the first female editor-in-chief (of the Guardian) and later EIC and CEO (of Newsday) which she founded in 1993 and which has never looked back, becoming a success story of note since then.


But in the days when Mills was at the Guardian prior to that part of her life, young reporters knew her in a different way, as an energetic force—truly embodying the spirit and letter of dynamism—learning at her elbow the ins and outs of journalism. Also, that bylines crediting reporters were earned and not simply assumed. 


For Mills the standard was a six-month period at least—and a perfectly written story—before one’s name could debut in print and the very first story under this writer’s byline, a feature about art, was reworked twice before it received the Mills stamp of approval. 



Among her leadership traits was that Mills had presence. Everyone knew when she was in a room. She exuded energy and could make (correct) editorial decisions in a split second, Newsday’s success bearing testimony to that. A newsroom was alive and kicking when she was around and she ensured everyone felt part of the team. Her young reporters would always be on the receiving end of tips or hints towards shaping the perfect story and as a writer of children’s short stories herself, she encouraged creativity when she saw it.