Some sad news for CBS: Jos Mason, a Rome-based producer and editor and a 30-year veteran of CBS News, died on Friday night at his home after battling pancreatic cancer. Jos is survived by his wife Nuna, a medical doctor and psychoanalyst, and their two children, Lorenzo, 16, and Elena, 15.
Allen Pizzey, a CBS News correspondent based in Rome, and Jos "were brothers in every sense except bloodline," said Marcy McGinnis, senior vice president of News Coverage. "They traveled the world together and far too often those travels brought them to hell holes, war zones and worse. Allen was the face of the team, Jos the technical, editing and producing whiz behind that face. There were no assignments too hard or too dangerous for them. They were always there for each other."
The following is Pizzey's obituary for Mason that he shared with his colleagues:
Jos started as a freelance editor in the CBS Rome bureau, and by dint of ability, just kept going and growing.
Over the course of his career Jos covered pope trips, Beirut, Sarajevo, Baghdad (before, during and after the wars,) Kurdistan, many parts of Africa, Europe, Afghanistan and most of the Middle East. There was no story he would refuse to go on, no conditions too harsh and miserable for him to accept, endure and make better for those around him.
Anyone who was involved in the death of the pope knows how smart, capable, multi-faceted and hard-working he was.
Jos became a producer not by accident or design, but by simply being what he was, a man who was not content to sit and see the world through a video edit machine. Jos wanted to see, hear, smell and feel what the correspondent and producer and especially the camera crews did. No good picture or piece of sound, he felt, should be wasted, and to do justice to the work of others he had to experience, and if necessary suffer, what they did. As a consequence the only grumbling you ever heard about Jos was that he was an extra body squeezed into whatever vehicle was being used. He became a producer and editor combined in Kosovo, and won an Overseas Press Club Citation for Excellence for his efforts.
Perhaps it was his early beginning that had something to do with his ability to make a mundane piece better, and good work sing -- sometimes literally. He once put the mass production of spaghetti, including the cutting and boxing, to Italian opera music, and made air with it. When times were tough on the road, Jos just got better at his job, and when the chance to kick back came, there was no one better to choose the restaurant and the wine. He knew and loved good food and good wine. The highest accolade Jos afforded either was "superb."
Jos began his working life as a touring actor in Britain, and played alongside (although he would have said "well down stage of,") among others, Spike Milligan and Barry Humphries. His interest in art led him to Rome, where he paid for his brush strokes by teaching people to strum the guitar.
His only regret was that he suffered a permanent case of tinnitus from having had a huge shell explode outside his editing place at the TV station in Sarajevo, which limited his ability to appreciate music fully as he would have liked.
When he was diagnosed and given three months to live, his attitude was that bad things happen to lots of people, this time it happened to be him. As he put it so succinctly: "Hey, s*** happens." He wanted, above all, he said at the time, to carry on "as normally as possible for as long as possible," not to sink into despair, or, again in his words, "take anyone else down there."
When e-mails, notes and phone calls expressing concern and support began to flood in, Jos was touched, and taken aback. "I didn't know that many people even knew me," he said, "let alone liked me." No one ever said anything bad about Jos and even more importantly, he never spoke ill of anyone.
Jos loved life, his work and above all his family. You could follow the progress of his children's lives by the changing images on his screen saver.
When there was an issue on which Jos wished to make a definitive or final point, he would preface and soften his remark with the phrase "the fact of the matter is ... ." Well, as a doting father, loving husband, colleague, traveling companion and a friend ... the fact of the matter is ... Jos Mason ... was superb.