Book Review – David Randall – Great Reporters

An inspiring and thought provoking read from one of Britain’s most iconic journalists

Following from the must read The Universal Journalist, Randall brings us the insightful Great Reporters. A timeless echo of history, remembering the legends of reporting throughout the years. While The Universal Journalist was a very much how-to guide, in Great Reporters, Randall reinforces the dedication of the reporters and the hostile environments of war reporting.

 

The book puts emphasis on the struggle of war reporting and the attributes and skills needed to be a successful journalist – how to stand out from the crowd. Determination and perseverance are clearly highlighted by Randall. From Floyd Gibbons surviving nine wars with his eye blown out in the field, to Meyer Berger revising the ‘Eye graphs’ to secure his entrance into the battle field. The author’s passion and dedication to the industry adds inspiration and a great incentive to gain a career of similar stature.

Randall takes us back in time through historical events that have helped shape the journalistic industry of today. The heroic William Russell is described as being ‘the first journalist to cover a conflict’ Throughout the Crimean war until sadly passing away in 1907. Great Reporters helps explore how much journalism has changed and how it will continue to change in the future. One chapter briefly discusses Russell’s salary of being an appalling £600.00. When in fact the average journalist nowadays earns forty times more than Russell at £24.000 per year.

As the historical themes continue to roll out throughout the book, David Randall brings significant reference to the events leading up to the terrible and tragic events which unfolded throughout Germany from 1941 to 1945. What could have happened to prevent one of the world’s most horrific genocides. Enter George Seldes, “A reporter who got up the noses of the high and mighty” The chapter speaks of world war one and president Hindenberg serving as the second president of Germany. Seldes and three other correspondents ignored the travel ban in Germany and decided to track down Hindenberg to interview him. The US army heard of this and threatened them with breaching military law if the ground breaking interview with Hindenberg was published.

Seldes claimed in his autobiography “I believe it would have destroyed the main planks on which Hitler rose to power” This is a iconic and remarkable moment in history. This could have prevented the damaging and destructive nature that came with the rise of Hitler. Leaving a chilling hindsight that such events may not have happened if the interview was published. Those six million innocent men, women and children may have had their lives spared from the effects of the mind numbing holocaust.

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