Isaac ‘Iron’ Nicholas, the fearless PNG reporter who led from the front

Journalist Isaac Nicholas
Vale Isaac Nicholas, 1970-2022 ... going places where few reporters dare, like the mountains of Goilala and the bush of Telefomin, and the crocodile-infested swamps of Kerema. Image: PNG Post-Courier

OBITUARY: By the PNG Post-Courier

“Iron” we called him. And so he was, our iron man at Papua New Guinea’s Post-Courier in Lawes Road, Port Moresby, to the end.

Until Wednesday, Isaac Nicholas was the steely fearless reporter who held us up front, and firmly led us from the front page as chief political reporter.

It is not easy being a political reporter.

PNG Post-Courier

Few people survive the beat and the heat.

Your name is mentioned in the halls of power.

You are enemy first and friend second.

Politicians either fear you or hate you.

Wary of his beat
Either way, Isaac Nicholas was always wary of his beat. He played the pollies with a calculated intensity like no-one did.

He was sure fire seeking the truth and quite firm in gaining traction without compromising the essence of fair and unbiased reporting.

He was a friend to all of them but getting under their skins, irritating them, made the Iron a trademark enemy to none.

Some of his best friends, like the MP for Goilala [William Samb], criticised him openly when they could about his reporting but at the end of the day, he would stand up in the newsroom and declare, “the member just called me” and that was it!

This little man from Yangoru, 52, served our newspaper and our country faithfully for the past 15 years, going places where few reporters dare, like the mountains of Goilala and the bush of Telefomin and the crocodile-infested swamps of Kerema.

You can think of many journos from the Sepik and Isaac Nicholas was among the best.

He was friendly, good natured and humorous.

Green iron tins under a mango tree
At the end of a hard day’s news hunt, our Iron would always retire under his mango tree at East Boroko. How ironic it was that his favourite cooling off was always with green iron tins under a green tree.

His notebooks were filled with names and stories.

There’s a box full of them on his table.

That is his life story.

Those of us who knew him, walked with him, talked with him, shared a buai [betel nut], shed our tears for the loss of a close friend.

A protector of junior newshounds, a leader of senior scribes. His leadership and reporting will be missed in Papua New Guinean journalism.

Life is such that we make friends without knowing when that friendship will pass. PNG woke up on Wednesday to the news that our iron man in news-making had breathed his last.

From Yangoru to Manugoro, Dagua to Kagua, Vailala to Goilala, Malalaua to Salamaua, Baniara to Honiara, the name Isaac Nicholas was a trusted forte of political drama and conscience leadership.

Without the generosity of a goodbye, without the curiosity of a farewell, we, his friends at the Post-Courier find it quite hard to fathom losing such a dear brother, news leader and best friend so suddenly.

We remember the late Isaac and comfort Judy Nicholas and their children in this time of sadness.

Vale Isaac, you were truly our IRON MAN!

Tributes flow in for Isaac Nicholas
Isaac Nicholas, 52, was a giant in the Papua New Guinean media fraternity, known for his ability to get answers from PNG’s political heavyweights on any given day, report colleagues in the PNG media industry.

Fellow senior journalists, NBC’s Gregory Moses and Sunday Bulletin’s Clifford Faiparik remembered their friend and the light moments they shared while on the beat.

Moses lamented: “Parliament coverage next week will not be the same.

“I fought back tears whole day, and sat down and reminiscing all the fun and jokes we shared as colleagues and brothers.”

Professor David Robie, who was head of the journalism programme at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) in the 1990s, paid tribute to Nicholas as “one of the outstanding journalists in the making of our times on Uni Tavur”, the award-winning student newspaper featured in his 2004 book Mekim Nius.

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