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Best media lawyer dies at 60

I was shocked, and very  much saddened, to sit down at my email this morning and read a message that Vancouver lawyer Barry Gibson died of a heart attack yesterday. He was 60 years old.

His name won’t be familiar to many people in Kamloops, but among the B.C. newspaper fraternity he was admired and respected as the best libel lawyer around. I knew him for years as the go-to guy whenever we had a question about the legality of something we were about to print.

He was a crusty sort of guy in some ways, but friendly and always available. We always knew that, no matter where he was, no matter what he was doing, he’d get back to us fast because he understood newspapers and deadlines.

I never had occasion to doubt Barry’s advice, which was always swift and clear. If we were about to do something stupid, he’d tell us. If we were on solid ground, he’d tell us that. And if we were in a grey area, he’d outline with great clarity what the possible results might be.

Whenever possible,  I liked to have the reporter in the room to hear first hand Barry’s assessment of a story when we phoned him. Sometimes reporters can get pretty wrapped up in their stories and, if they went on too long about things that weren’t strictly pertinent to the legal issues, he’d cut them off and go straight to the point.

At the annual meeting of Glacier Media editors the past two years, Barry gave presentations about current legal issues and trends, and the stuff we learned from him at those sessions alone made the conference worth it. And he didn’t bill us for his time for those workshops, either.

One of the topics he covered last fall was about legal issues around bloggers who steal material from newspapers — one of these days I’m going to do a post on the subject, using my notes from what he told us.

Barry Gibson worked for the law firm Farris, Vaughn, Wills & Murphy in Vancouver, and he died on the job, in his office. When it comes to knowledge of media law, he will be impossible to replace.

About Mel Rothenburger (9358 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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