Michael Green
Durban - Former Daily News editor Michael Green, who headed the paper through the height of apartheid, collapsed and died suddenly Wednesday morning.

Green, 87, had been admitted to Durban’s St Augustine’s Hospital the night before for tests after a shoulder injury, his journalist daughter Pippa said last night.

Former colleague Trevor Bruce said: “He was one of the last editors of the ‘old school’ and only the most senior colleagues dared address him as anything but Mr Green. He was admired and respected by most for his outstanding writing skills as well as being a polished public speaker.”

Green edited the paper through the minefield of apartheid-era press laws.

“Even the most cynical of sub-editors used to look forward to his weekly column on a wide range of topics. He was a fine wine connoisseur and his wine column was well read.”

Green, who eventually became the editor-in-chief of the Daily News and the Sunday Tribune, was arrested “in dramatic fashion” at a diplomatic cocktail party in Durban in the early 1970s for running a story celebrating Mozambique’s independence, his daughter recalled.

Green and the newspaper were subsequently fined for reporting on an illegal gathering. Undeterred, the courageous editor continued to be “totally critical” of the apartheid government, colleagues said.

Journalist and author Graham Linscott said Green made the Daily News “a huge success” and it was “streets ahead” of the opposition.

“His editorial conferences were very orderly, but there was also a huge amount of humour, almost Noel Coward-ish humour.”

Green’s column “Out and About” was eventually produced in book form. Durban arts expert Caroline Smart said last night that he had been part-way through reading his columns for Tape Aids For the Blind when he died.

She had known Green since the late 1970s when he was on the board of Durban Arts. He later wrote reviews for the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra for her ArtSMart website.

“This is a huge loss. I will miss his friendship and huge contribution to the arts scene, as well as his quality of writing,” she said.

Born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Green moved to Cape Town at a young age, and started his journalist career at The Argus newspaper at 17, before becoming editor of The Friend newspaper in Bloemfontein.

Another highlight of his career was when he received a Nieman Fellowship to Harvard University in the US in 1967.

An accomplished pianist, the opportunity also gave him the chance to attend music classes.

No date has as yet been set for his memorial service.

Daily News