By Steven Lang, former editor of Grocott’s Mail
I believe that Rhodes University is suffering an immense loss with the departure of Sue Maclennan, one of Grocott’s Mail’s longest-serving and most competent editors of the last century or so.
She has three talents that are highly prized in the business of media.
Firstly, Sue is a meticulously accurate sub-editor, who understands what the reporter meant to write, and how they should have written it. She is the only person with who I would feel comfortable about publishing my work without having to recheck it.
She is a consummate professional as a reporter who goes far beyond the call of duty to make sure she understands all perspectives of often complicated issues. Her reportage on municipal shenanigans, water worries, coronavirus challenges and many other issues in Makana have substantially added value to how the local community understands these critical topics.
Compassion and sensitivity are hallmarks of her reporting style, but she never allows her empathy with the down-trodden to blur the facts.
Over the years, Sue has often asked me if I would check the statistics in a story she had written, “… because, you know I’m not very good with numbers”. The truth is that she is as good with numbers as anyone else I know, but she likes being sure that everything is accurate.
Sue is also an outstanding editor who appreciates the bigger picture of her publication and the potential consequences of any content she might publish. Her highly professional layout skills support her overall ability to run a newspaper.
In these days of fake news and dubious journalism, Sue stands out for her rigid adherence to the ethical principles of journalism. I clearly remember her refusing to accept a simple notebook that a Grahamstown gift store handed out as Christmas gifts to clients.
Such an array of valuable attributes would make anyone a complete editor. Yet despite having an abundance of these skills, Sue is so self-effacing that I know it will be difficult for her to read these words.
We have known each other for about ten years. At first, our relationship was purely professional as I grew to respect Sue’s ability to improve my work and to ensure that the layout of Grocott’s Mail would look good.
Over time, we gradually became closer as I left the newspaper but continued to submit occasional articles to her.
Sometimes, when we’re not in the middle of a pandemic, my family enjoys meals and conversations with her.
She is now a good friend of the Lang family, and we hope that it will stay that way even as she leaves the publication that is very dear to both of us.