Guy Kewney RIP

I want simply to express how what a huge loss to the world the death early this morning (Thursday 8 April 2010) of Guy Kewney is. He died aged just 63.

He was the first technology journalist. He started in the mid-1970s as a result of which he got to know all the big names when they were still speaking to journalists. Alan Sugar. Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. And Douglas Adams for good measure.

Guy’s approach never wavered, and was born out of his fierce intelligence, a small smattering of humility, intense curiosity and deep loyalty to his readers. He’d ask the right question in a terribly polite way – and it got results. The IT exec would quaver and then blurt out what they didn’t want to say – or they’d give the game away by clamming up.

I worked with him for almost 15 years on PCW and PC Magazine and he was always the same. My job was, more often than not, to extract and edit his copy. His copy was incisive, insightful and idiosyncratic – and invariably, horribly late. But what you got was Guy’s voice, every time, no kow-towing to corporate or magazine style. It was sometimes infuriating – but he was right to do that, and readers loved him for it.

More entertaining was the Kewney Chaos Field (it acquired several names over the years) which resulted in perfectly good pieces of technology, often new, pre-released hardware or software, turning into door-stops as soon as they got within 10 feet of the man. How come? No-one ever figured out how he managed to break stuff that no-one ever did.

As for his expenses: managing them drove one individual to leave the country….but more importantly, he was an inspiration to two generations of journalists and PR flacks over the decades of his working life.

I didn’t speak to him as much over the last years of his life as I did when I sat across from him in the PC Magazine office for almost ten years. But I’m glad I went to see him just a week before his death. He was weak physically but his brain was undimmed, and he was perfectly relaxed and accepting of what was about to happen. He knew he was soon to die of the cancer that started in his bowels then ate away the rest of him. But the rational man that he was took it in his stride.

I only hope I can leave this world as gracefully. Guy: you are missed.

His final blog is here and there’s a nice obit from Iain Thomson here.

19 Replies to “Guy Kewney RIP”

  1. Thanks Manek, a lovely summary of a lovely, if sometimes cantankerous, man. I’m surprised by how upset I am at his passing. And you’re right – he will be greatly missed by all of those of us who knew him, but also by those who didn’t but who benefited from his energy, professionalism and incisive journalism.

  2. He was the only person I’ve ever heard complaining about there being too much space available in the press room at Mobile World Congress. He will be missed.

  3. There was a greatness to his deadline lateness. I hoped he’d beat the final deadline but it was not to be.

  4. Well done Manek. Guy made a huge difference in my like and his advice was always spot on…though at times hard to swallow. I spoke to him a few days ago and he was…and will always be…Guy.

  5. I was so sorry to learn of Guy’s death this morning. It seems inconceivable that he’ll no longer be around. But Manek evokes the man beautifully.

  6. Those are lovely words Manek, for a lovely man. Thanks for articulating what I’m sure (and the evidence concurrs) many feel.

    Matt

  7. Thank you all for your comments. I’ve been feeling extremely emotional all day and they really have helped. I hope too that I’ve helped reflect how I know many others felt about Guy.

  8. Manek – I suspect that all those times you took Guy to the pub to work on his deadline ills, he was in fact telling you about his latest run-in with another CEO or some other problem that could only be solved with another pint of ale…

    Very nice tribute – I’m trying to keep the lump in my throat down.

  9. Thank you for your words, Manek. I worked with Guy for far fewer years (three or four) and never had the privilege of editing him (I may have stood in once or twice for someone else but I can’t recall exactly). But I worked with him on some great projects and tried to meet up with him when I could once I moved to California. But he had a great deal of impact on a young journo just starting out and I miss him.

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