The Arkus swirl
Wednesday 3 August 2022
No-one ever livened a newsroom as much as Mike Arkus. His obit noted, accurately, that he left in a dispute. It would take a really sharp reporter to find the point in his 42 years with Reuters when he was “entirely happy” with newsroom things (to borrow a phrase from Allan “Sarge” Barker).
But he was a happy warrior and he made us all better, or at least think we might try to be better. His quality notes were delivered with bon mots laced with venom. But if one of his darts landed on you he’d often extract the poison, if just by giving you a smirking nod from across the newsroom, and sometimes by offering good-humoured advice on how to do it better next time. He might even take your explanation of how you thought you handled the story right!
He drove managers mad with his swirl but he had a way of letting them know they shouldn’t take him, or themselves, too seriously. He thought this hubbub was part of the news process - his signature was his post-deadline Shakespeare recitations and his sometimes unhinged service message screeds summing up the Americas day.
He never entirely escaped his teaching role, leaving reporting for quality editorship. But he did manage to exchange the hushed schoolroom for a lively newsroom.
Happy his parting service message told us he enjoyed his ride! Thanks for letting us hitch along, Mike. ■