This session obviously had a lot about the Watergate scandal and how Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein brought down President Richard Nixon.
Both Woodward and Bernstein have gone on to become authors in their own right as well, Woodward has written 16 books on American politics, 12 of them have been bestseller’s, but both are obviously indelibly linked with Watergate.
These two investigative reporters gave possibly the finest piece of journalism to the world, with the possible exception of Michael Buerke’s Ethiopia report in 1984, to bring down Nixon.
At the time they were relatively obscure reporters and Watergate was originally meant to be just another story.
The work they did on Watergate earned a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for the Washington Post in 1973.
Gene Roberts, the former executive editor of The Philadelphia Enquirer and former managing editor of the New York Times has called their work on Watergate “Maybe the single greatest reporting effort of all time.”
Apart from Watergate Woodward is also known for being the Post’s main reporter for their coverage of the September 11 attacks in 2001, coverage which led to another Pulitzer Prize for the paper for National Reporting.
Bernstein went on to work for ABC News 1980 to 1984 and was first to report during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon that Ariel Sharon had “deceived the cabinet about the real intention of the operation- to drive the Palestinians out of Lebanon, not to establish a 25-Kilometer security zone, North from the border.”
Our session about Joseph Pulitzer was very eye-opening. Obviously we knew about the Pulitzer Prize but this session also told us about the discovery of ‘Yellow Journalism’ which propounded the idea of mass circulation of newspapers which depended on advertising income.
It also appealed to readers with several forms of news, entertainment and advertising.
I’ve also learnt that the Pulitzer Prizes were established in 1917 after he bequeathed money to Columbia university and that they recognize achievement in the fields of journalism and photography but also literature, poetry, history, music and drama.
His bequest also saw the opening of the Columbia School of Journalism in 1912.
Yellow journalism was actually caused by the competition between his New York World and William Randolph Hirst’s New York Journal in the 1890’s.
He is also known for crusading against corruption and big business and he was a Democratic congressman 1885-1886.
He also helped to ensure that the Statue of Liberty stayed in New York.
Pulitzer bought the St. Louis Dispatch and the St. Louis Post in 1879 and merged them together as the St. Louis Post- Dispatch.
With this he developed his role as a champion of the ordinary man-on-the-street with exposes and a hard-hitting populist approach.
He introduced ‘New-Journalism’ to his papers in the 1880’s and became a leading national figure in the Democratic party which is what led to his election to congress.
The session about Martin Bell was an acute lesson in how to deliver war reports and then how to completely change direction in life because of what you have seen.
He started his career with the BBC in 1962 before being called to London in 1965 shortly before his first foreign trip for them to Ghana.
Learning about his career it has become very apparent that he covered many wars and conflicts, 11 in total, and has reported from 80 different countries.
In his reports from Bosnia he has a sense of urgency in his voice and he isn’t afraid of reporting from the side of troops and the side of civilians as well.
There are times he does a piece to camera with either troops and guns or with civilians around him which I find truly extraordinary.
It is well documented he then used his Bosnian experiences to great effect as he announced his candidacy and then overturned a huge Tory majority in the seat of Tatton in the 1997 General Election.
His success in the election made him a symbol of the fight against sleaze in the Conservative government after he had been a symbol of war reporting.
His reflection on his time as a war correspondent to a packed out audience at The Frontline Club is very insightful.
The session about John Pilger and The War You Don’t See was very enlightening.
John Pilger started out as a war correspondent covering the Vietnam war then later he became an investigative journalist and in his programme named above he set about bringing the truth to people about, particularly, the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the ‘War on Terrorism’ in Afghanistan.
In it he exposed some huge lies that were fed to civilians through government controlled media like the BBC and ITV here and Fox News in the United States.
His interviewing style is very clever, he comes across as quite relaxed but you can also see a burning desire to get to the truth even if that means asking questions that maybe other people won’t ask or an interviewee won’t want to answer.
His honesty is his greatest weapon and seems to relax whoever he interviews before he goes for the jugular and, maybe, helps him get more out of that person than somebody else would.
What he does also do is give the person the chance to put their side but, in a way, it seems like he’s just giving them enough rope to hang themselves with.
He knows exactly when to ask the awkward questions and can turn an interview in the blink of an eye.