Journalist Archibald Gordon spent years delivering riveting news reporting on screen to his attentive audience. Beyond those cameras, he lived for seizing the moment and defined his purpose accordingly. So, when the chance came up to audition for one of the biggest and longest-airing shows on television, he jumped at the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Today, Gordon proudly sits as the new host for Profile.
“You don’t have to have it all figured out to take a step forward,” he said. That sentiment speaks volumes for the professional who confessed that he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life, unlike many others. Toying with the idea of teaching, his career trajectory aligned after it was suggested that he pursue a bachelor’s degree at the Caribbean School of Media and Communication at The University of the West Indies. The young quiz student, who was attending St Jago High School at the time, took the recommendation and passed the then mandated entrance exam to embark on an exciting journey in radio.
He applied for an internship at the then RJR Communications Group in radio and progressed to television full-time. Television, he learned naturally, noting that the transition came about after seizing all opportunities to expand his creative horizons. “If I could cover a story for radio and television, I would. I learned to technically edit, and I also learnt to write for TV, involving myself in all aspects of it.”
His hard work, dedication and tenacity paid off when he began managing a news team as editor, hosting Junior Schools’ Challenge Quiz and Smile Jamaica, as well as producing different programmes, like Beyond the Headlines and Prime Time News, all while reading for Prime Time News.
“You don’t have to have it all figured out to take a step forward.”
His defining moment on screen came while doing hurricane coverage. Travelling to the tip of Jamaica, he wrote and reported that the place could be better navigated by a boat. It was there that he discovered he might have a knack for creativity after all. Honing his craft gradually over time, he went with the flow, keeping himself busy with a host of responsibilities. By 2017, he said, “there’s nothing in news that I can think of that I haven’t done”, so he handed in his resignation in 2018.
Now the director of marketing and communications at the Caribbean Maritime University, he also lectures at Northern Caribbean University and the University College of the Caribbean. Gordon finds his new role as an educator most rewarding. It’s a lot of cross-fertilisation and cross-pollination; it doesn’t pay, but it is one of the best things he has ever done, in his estimation. He also started his own media company, Archibald Gordon Communications, where he gets hands-on, behind the scenes, about media and communication within the spotlight and beyond that.
When his news career ended, he maintained a good relationship with the company, noting that he wasn’t afraid to ask if there were any openings. “I’m not as shy as I was when I started out, and I know that I will have to go after some opportunities. So I let them know that I am available.” After making some queries, he was asked if he was interested in hosting programmes. That led to a slew of auditions for three local TV programmes: a financial show with National Commercial Bank, which he received; the senior arm of Schools’ Challenge Quiz, for which he, unfortunately, wasn’t selected, crushing his childhood dream; and the award-winning Profile, which was an unexpected, exciting win.
“Profile is intimidating, and I did not realise it. Because I’ve been working in news, I understand the media environment. But to see those numbers, wow!” Initially, he thought of the new job in a functional way, sorting through segments and guests, and not so much as contributing to a part of Jamaica’s history.
His approach to hosting the programme includes shying away from the chronological order of the featured stories and personalities, and giving more focus to the defining moments of the careers and overall lives; he is already learning so much from the lessons. “It is different from news. How do I help guests to tell their stories, and how do I redefine paying homage to Ian Boyne and Fae Ellington, while acknowledging others like Yendi Phillipps in the space.”
Always one to burst the envelope wide open, his strategy is to openly engage with his specially invited guests and his audience, while being his true self. And in his own way, he is redefining moments by shifting his career path. Now 42 years old, he says this decision is a reflection of his introduction to the 40s.
For those seeking to tackle journalism as a profession, his advice is simple: just do it. As far as Profile goes, Gordon hopes to bridge the gap between honouring the legendary footsteps of the late Ian Boyne and the previous host, Fae Ellington, while bringing a fresh outlook to lifestyle journalism.