In memory of John Patrick Costello

Many in the IT community were saddened this week with the news of the death of one of IT journalism's founding fathers - John Patrick Costello - in his sleep on Sunday May 21, aged 63.

He was the founding editor of Computerworld in Australia in 1978; he later returned for a second tenure from 1997 to 1999. He continued to freelance after moving to Buladelah on the NSW mid-North coast a few years ago, making him one of the longest-serving IT journalists in Australia.

John's passion for journalism made him a highly respected mentor for many journalists throughout the industry, not just at IDG, Computerworld's publisher. Receipt of the news of his death on the IT journalism mailing list, stirred responses - many from vendors - of "sorry to hear", "I always remember him as a gentleman", and "bugger".

IDG Australia's managing director Don Kennedy had this to say.

"Jack Costello was a pioneer in our field; the legacy of having created Computerworld Australia will forever mark him as a key contributor to the growth of the IT industry in this country.

"However, I will most remember him for his desire to counsel and teach new journalists and help them grow in a field he considered of paramount importance," Kennedy said.

Former Pacific Computer Weekly editor Mike Vanderkelen gave John his first break in journalism in 1974.

"A number of people applied, and Jack wanted somewhat more, but he had the capability and he impressed me," Vanderkelen said. "Jack was a hard worker and covered a lot of ground. He always had a smile and was always happy to have a cleansing ale."

John's ex-wife Carrie Costello recalls his early days on the job as a reporter.

"He was known in the industry as JP." Early in his IT journalism days, she said, he asked Mike what the hell to do. "Mike said shoot from the hip, don't stop asking questions, and don't take no for an answer.

"JP was a terrier when he got hold of a story and wouldn't let it go until he got what he wanted. When he first started Computerworld he was convinced IBM was tapping our home phone, because first edition went out from home. He used to pick up the phone and shout 'I know you are listening!' as interviews were done at home."

All who knew and worked with him enjoyed his sense of humour and the way he loved life.

"There were two days in the year when John would never work, they were St Patrick's Day and his birthday," Carrie Costello said.

Alan Power, IDG Australia's first managing director and colleague of Costello, said "Cockie" was everyone's friend, because he was good at socializing and had a databank of jokes that could keep you entertained throughout many a long night.

"I don't think I ever heard him repeat a joke," Power said. "He quickly became one of the best computer news journalists in the business. Jack was a master at playing the relationship, making sure he got the news he wanted for a story on which he was working."

Power describes "Jack" as "the true journo professional".

"He loved to dig out a good story and he told a good one. He never seemed to need to write lots of notes either during an interview. His memory must have been prodigious."

John Costello's funeral will be held on Thursday June 1 at the Bulladelah Catholic Church at 11am. On Tuesday June 6, a wake will be held at the Rag and Famish Hotel in North Sydney from 12:30pm.

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