Records of Gemini News Service

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Records of Gemini News Service, 1966-2008. Includes articles; original graphics; promotional material; photographs for articles; photographs of staff and correspondents; newspaper cuttings; management files; financial records, including reports and accounts and lists of expenditure; correspondent files; project files and correspondence with subscribers.

Administrative / Biographical History

Gemini News Service, founded in 1967, was a pioneering independent news service specialising in the field of international and development journalism. Gemini aimed to improve the exchange of news coverage between the developed and the developing world and to change traditional patterns of news where by news agencies used journalists from developed countries to report on the affairs of developing countries.

The principle founder and editor of Gemini (1967-1993) was Derek Ingram. Prior to the foundation of Gemini, Ingram had established himself as a successful Fleet Street journalist, sub-editing the Daily Sketch and Daily Express before moving to the Daily Mail in 1949, where he became deputy editor. Following his departure from the Daily Mail in 1966, Ingram along with Oliver Carruthers, (a former district officer and newspaper editor in Northern Rhodesia who poured some of his family fortune into financing Gemini in its early years), founded Gemini in offices on Paddington Street, London. After undertaking a number of international promotional tours to establish markets and subscribers, they launched Gemini on 1 January 1967 from its new offices in Wheatsheaf House, Carmelite Street, London.

One of the fundamental principles that made Gemini stand out from other news agencies was that where possible they used articles by correspondents who were resident in the country they were writing about. Correspondents from all over the world would send articles to its headquarters in London where they would be edited, illustrated and dispatched by a small team of journalists, administrators and graphic designers. Gemini news features covered a wide variety of subjects, including politics, economics, culture, health, science and the environment which appealed to countries in and outside of the Commonwealth. They also had a number of successful scoops and exclusive reports, one of the most famous being report by Richard Hall of the fall of Biafra, Nigeria in January 1970, which appeared in national newspapers in the United Kingdom and around the world. Gemini supplied its news features in twice weekly packages to worldwide subscribers, including newspapers, broadcasters, schools, universities and government offices.

Gemini also had an international reputation for its striking graphics which accompanied the majority of its articles. Gemini graphic artists produced a wide range of maps, illustrations, charts and drawings of personalities in a distinctive bold, clear and easily accessible form. Many of Gemini's graphic artists, including Rade Radovic, his son Brana Radovic, Cliff Hopkinson, Peter Clarke, Nick Green and Paddy Allen, went on to pursue careers with national newspapers.

Following its successful launch, Gemini quickly expanded and diversified its operations. In 1968, Gemini established GeminiScan, a design and publishing company, which produced educational datakits, which displayed complex information in an easily understandable form and supplied graphics to accompany Gemini articles. In 1969, Gemini took control of African Buyer and Trader, and re-styled its principle publication, African Development, into a popular monthly magazine. In the 1970s, following a prolonged period of severe financial difficulty cumulating in the take over of the Service by the Guardian newspaper in 1973, Gemini was forced to sell its shares in and eventually fully separate from its subsidiary companies.

Gemini had always operated on a tiny budget but by the early 1970s, it became clear that Gemini could not survive without significant financial backing. As a result of Gemini's financial crisis Ingram began approaching individuals and newspapers to buy Gemini. In June 1973, Gemini was brought by the Manchester Guardian and Evening News Limited and relocated to news offices in John Street, London. As a subsidiary of the Guardian, Gemini maintained its identity and editorial independence. In 1979, Gemini moved to the old offices of the Guardian on Fleet Street and later relocated to the basement of the Guardian offices on the Farringdon Road, London. Gemini remained a subsidiary of the Guardian for nine years until due to the recession within the newspaper industry, it became no-longer financially viable for the newspaper to own the Service. In April 1982, the Guardian handed Gemini back to Derek Ingram, who unable to find sufficient financial backing, was forced to immediately suspend the Service.

Following the announcement of Gemini's suspension there was such a wide appeal from newspapers and agencies, particularly in developing countries, to revive it that renewed efforts were made to find financial backing to re-launch the service. In late 1982, NewsConcern International Foundation was established as a not for profit international non-governmental organisation with the aim of supporting Gemini in its work both in the media and education sectors. The Foundation received funds from a variety of agencies including, the Canadian International Development Agency, UNICEF, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, United Nations Fund for Population Activities, International Development Research Centre (Canada) and the Guardian newspaper, who also allowed Gemini to remain in its offices rent free. The Foundation was managed by a board of governors who were chosen from all over the world, including Britain, Canada, Trinidad, Zimbabwe, India, Nigeria, Cyprus and Jamaica.

In March 1983, Gemini was officially re-launched as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Foundation and began trading under the company name News-Scan International Limited. Under the governorship of the Foundation, Gemini maintained its editorial independence, won back old, and gained new subscribers and was also able to develop a range of education and training schemes for journalists. Educational projects undertaken by Gemini included:

  • - a programme of rural reporting, known as 'views from the village, which fund journalists in developing countries to stay in a rural village, after which they describe the village, its people and concerns in copy for Gemini.
  • - workshops and the publication of manuals on rural and environmental reporting.
  • - a programme to expand the coverage of science related news and train a network of science writers in developing countries.
  • - a range of fellowship and intern programmes funded by various agencies, including the International Development Research Centre, Canadian International Development Agency and University of Regina School of Journalism, Canada.

To assure the future of Gemini the Foundation's governors were keen to form a partnership with the Panos Institute, London, an environmental and development research body. Attempts for a full merger of the two organisations in 1989 failed, but an agreement was reached for Gemini to produce Panos features and to let offices with Panos in White Lion Street, Islington, London.

In 1993, Ingram stepped down as editor but remained as a consultant editor and contributor to Gemini. Ingram was replaced by former Gemini assistant editor and Panos managing editor (news), Daniel Nelson. Gemini's financial difficulties continued throughout the 1990s and in April 1999, Gemini was taken over by Panos. Gemini's news and feature service continued to operate under the Gemini name but was now under the editorship of Panos features editor, Dipankar De Sarkar. Under the ownership of Panos, debates concerning the future of Gemini continued and in July 2002, Gemini was suspended. Despite continued efforts to re-launch Gemini, at the time of writing (January 2010), Gemini remains suspended.

Arrangement

Arranged into 9 sections to reflect the functions of the organisation:

  • GEM/1: Management records
  • GEM/2: Finance records
  • GEM/3: Personnel records
  • GEM/4: Editorial records
  • GEM/5: Subscription records
  • GEM/6: Marketing records
  • GEM/7: Project records
  • GEM/8: Publications
  • GEM/9: Subsiduary company records

Conditions Governing Access

Open(part). Some records are closed in line with data protection legislation and business confidentiality.

Open records may be viewed in our reading room by appointment only, see our website for more information.

Acquisition Information

The majority of these records were deposited with the Archive by Newsconcern International Foundation between 2002 and 2009, with the exception of the Gemini minute book, 1966-1974, (AccNo: 2004/121) which was, transferred to the Archive from The Guardian in 2004.

Other Finding Aids

A full catalogue description for this collection can be found on the GNM Archive catalogue.

Custodial History

Prior to the deposit of the collection in the Archive the majority of Gemini's archive was stored at the offices of the Panos Institute, London from 1999 to 2002; Thames Valley University from 2002 to 2007 and Derek Ingram's house (deposited in the Archive in 2003 and 2009).

Related Material

A history of Gemini was published in 1995 and is available in the Historical Reference Library (HRL467): Bourne, Richard, 'News on a knife-edge: Gemini journalism and a global agenda', (John Libbey and Company, London, 1995).