Ivan Johnson, founder of The Punch tabloid, who died aged 68. He is pictured in 2018 receiving his Pioneer Award from the Bahamas Press Club. Photo: Press Club
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
IVAN Johnson, the founder of The Punch tabloid, died in hospital yesterday at the age of 68 after suffering a heart attack.
Mr Johnson was rushed to Doctors Hospital after the heart attack yesterday morning, where he was put on life support but died yesterday evening.
In a Facebook post last night, The Punch said: “Rest In Peace Ivan Nicholas Johnson.”
Mr Johnson was a force in Bahamian media for decades and The Bahamas Press Club honoured him for his contributions in 2018 with the Pioneer Award for his newspaper publication.
His publication frequently drew the ire of politicians for stories and allegations published about them.
According to The Bahamas Press Club, he was educated at Queen’s College and at the Seaford Court Preparatory School at Malvern Link, Worcestershire.
Mr Johnson was a former professional, all-rounder, English first-class cricketer. During the English country cricket off-season winter months, he was employed as a trainee reporter at The Tribune.
The Bahamas Press Club wrote in 2018: “In October 1975, Johnson became a trainee journalist with Thomson Newspapers, owned by Lord Thomson of Fleet. He worked at the Hemel Hempstead Evening Post-Echo and studied at the Harlow College of Journalism in Essex. This training was followed by one year’s cadetship at Reuters.
“Johnson returned to Nassau in 1976. At The Tribune, two chief reporters had quit without warning. Johnson agreed to act as the newspaper’s chief reporter up to the 1977 general election.
“In October 1976, Johnson clashed with the Progressive Liberal Party leader, Prime Minister Lynden Pindling, during the ZNS-TV radio programme, Contact. Contact was a monthly, live broadcast where Sir Lynden was questioned by journalists. Sir Lynden became angry when answering Johnson’s questions. In November 1976, Sir Lynden refused to appear with Johnson. Johnson continued to goad Sir Lynden in The Tribune. After the 1977 election, Johnson returned to England and in 1979, he gained employment at The London Sun newspaper as a staff sub-editor.
“In 1985, Johnson was seconded to Australia and worked as a sub-editor at The Daily Mirror (Australia), The Townsville Bulletin and The Sunday Times (Western Australia). In 1987, Johnson again returned to London. He worked as a freelance sub-editor for the London Sun, News of the World and The Sunday Times before gaining employment as a staff sub-editor at the Daily Star.”
In August 1989, he returned to The Bahamas and in February 1990 launched The Punch.
“In 1992, on the morning of election day, The Punch ran a headline predicting the Free National Movement win over Progressive Liberal Party by 32 seats to 17. The tabloid was hence called The Prophet Punch,” the Press Club said.
“To his credit, Johnson is the first and only Bahamian to have played professional cricket at the first-class and junior test cricket level.”
He was the son of the late Basil Johnson, CNE, a World War 11 flight sergeant - the only black Bahamian to fly in the British Royal Air Force during World War 11. His mother was from England.