Editorial comment: Bygone era but Gerry Isaaman’s legacy lives

Gerry Isaaman former editor of The Ham & High in 2013.

Gerry Isaaman former editor of The Ham & High in 2013. Picture: NIGEL SUTTON - Credit: Nigel Sutton

I never had the pleasure of meeting Gerry Isaaman.

But from speaking to those who knew and worked for him over the last week, I could only get a sense of what a wonderful man and editor he was.

In a career at this newspaper spanning nearly 40 years, Gerry made the newspaper what it was. Brilliant reporting, a peerless arts and features section, and a newspaper that put the community at the centre of its journalism. He was the paper, and the paper was him.

This came from the top. That wasn't just good journalism, it was a genuine affection for Hampstead village and its people.

Without him, how different would Hampstead be? Would Burgh House now be multi-million pound flats? Would Hampstead Town Hall have had the same fate? Probably. Instead they're community assets for all to enjoy.

As Barry Peskin writes, under his custodianship the Ham&High was a supporter of "many local social justice issues."

Gerry was one of many campaigners, but he gave people a platform to campaign on and rally round. A strong local newspaper leads to a strong community.

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The times have changed. The media industry in 2019 bears little resemblance to 1994. In the days that Ceefax seemed like cutting edge communication technology, the internet and mobile access was almost unfathomable.

The Ham&High is no longer in Perrin's Court and newspapers are run on a fraction of the staff.

But we're still here, and trying to continue that tradition.

This week we're looking at how Camden Council treats residents who are in debt. Last week our call for a driver to be brought to justice reached thousands. We continue to campaign for the safe return of West Hampstead mum Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

We are carrying on Gerry's legacy of fighting for residents, and for campaigns that affect them, and without fear or favour, we will continue to do so.