Monday, December 20, 2010

Journalism's loss is ours too

Today's a bad day for journalism as the deaths of two of its towering figures have been announced. Anthony Howard and Brian Hanrahan have died relatively young and both at the height of their powers.

They represented all the best qualities of the noble art of journalism at a time when there's so much mediocrity in print and TV news. Both were masters of brevity and sound judgement; both knew how to hold the powerful to account for their actions.

Along with Hugo Young, Tony Howard was one of the greatest post-war political commentators, whose encyclopedic knowledge of the men (mostly) and women who have held the great offices of state since 1945, enabled him to put today's politicians in their proper context.

I will miss his clipped tones on the Today programme bringing sanity, wit and wisdom to the morning brawl.

Hanrahan is known for his 'I counted them all out and I counted them all back' report during the Falklands War. But his reporting from Tienanmen Square, Berlin as the wall came down, Russia in the Gorbachev years, offered huge insight into these world-changing events.

Even latterly presenting the World at One as a stand-in for the regulars, he brought insight and incision to interviews that most of his peers could only dream of.

It would be good to think that there are young reporters modelling their approach to their craft on these greats.

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