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Big news week for Isle of Man journalists

News staff from a trio of newspapers that publish on the Isle of Man have had a busy – if challenging – week reporting the untimely deaths of two former islanders.

Reporters awoke on Sunday to hear the news that Maurice Gibb, of the Bee Gees, had died.

Then on Tuesday night it became clear the policeman murdered on duty in London was the son of the island’s former chief constable, Robin Oake, who still lives there and is a pillar of the community.

Islanders have been reading about the latest developments in the paid-for Isle of Man Examiner, which hits the streets on Mondays, the free Courier, which comes out on Thursdays, and the Manx Independent, published on a Friday – all from the same publisher.

Many news sources have chosen to ignore the fact that the Bee Gees were born on the island, preferring to credit them with coming from Manchester or Australia. But Maurice also returned to live there for several years in the 1970s, so is the band’s biggest link with the Manx people.

Although the newsroom had no direct access to the Gibb family, a close family friend based on the island kept staff informed of developments – and by the time they published, the story was no longer the death of a Bee Gee – but the fact the family wanted an inquiry into the tragedy.

Deputy editor Jo Overty said: “We knew Maurice was ill on Friday but Robin was still in this country and we took that as a guide.

“Developments meant the story was re-written four times before we went to press.”

Then, as the nation was told about the stabbing of a detective in news bulletins on Tuesday evening, it was revealed by Greater Manchester Police that the victim was DC Stephen Oake, whose father is well-known to both press and public on the island.

Jo said: “He was chief constable here between 1986 and 1999 and is a pillar of the community.

“We all know him from when he was chief constable, and his community activities since, and we feel and share his loss.

“We are all told that terrorism is an evil and this showed how it can affect us all.

“He held his own press conference here on Wednesday morning and we provided PA with copy from that as flights were too busy for most national journalists to get here.

“We have a great, tight-knit team of journalists here, with just six reporters and the newsdesk, and they have had many other stories to do as well.

“But they have rallied around, got out of bed early and come in at short notice to make sure we got the coverage.”

Do you have a story about the regional press? Ring 0116 227 3122/3121, or
e-mail pastill@nep.co.uk