Monday 20 December 2010

Lost For Words

Two great media voices have disappeared this week

anthony howard

Anthony Howard – a perceptive political commentator. He loved politics and liked politicians, but as the Evening Standard commented, he “never let his friendships stand in the way of a good story or a piece of mischief”. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Howard's "eloquence, wit and beliefs straddled 50 years of our history". Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "Anthony Howard was not just a distinguished political commentator, but someone who conveyed the excitement and importance of the events on which he was commenting."

As a junior officer in Suez in 1956, he was appalled by the madness of the venture and the lies told to defend it; his account, which appeared in the New Statesman and kick-started his journalistic career, caused a sensation and nearly led to his prosecution.

I always felt that he was able to explain political issues in a way I could understand.

brian hanrahan

And Brian Hanrahan, the BBC Foreign Correspondent.

Any one writing about the news reports from the Falklands War in 1982 will be soon quoting his memorable phrase, "I counted them all out, and I counted them all back."

It was a clever ruse to get round MoD reporting restrictions, so that he could say that all British Harrier jets had returned safely. It has become a prime example of good reporting under pressure.

During his 20 years as a BBC foreign affairs reporter, he covered some of the major events to shake the world in recent times; the assassination of Gandhi, the rise of Gorbachev, Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the handover of Hong Kong … [oh, and I can still remember listening to him bringing those reports] He was a member of the BBC ‘State Occasions Team’ too, reporting on funerals of Diana, and the Queen Mother, and other national events.

His reports from these world-changing events were well-written, properly crafted pieces, ensuring that those listening were fully aware of what was going on.

I know I am a “news junkie”, but I do feel the BBC reporters as a team are among the best in the world – we take their professionalism for granted sometimes. There is no room for ‘sloppy journalism’ if you work for the Beeb.

These two men were never guilty of sloppiness, or careless use of words – and both were particularly committed to speaking the truth. For that, I have the greatest respect for them and their work. I will miss hearing their voices…

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free


  1. Hi Angela - for all my "air head" ways, believe it or not, I too am a news junkie - but only the Beeb :) I was sad to hear that these men had died - it seems like they have always been on our screens - I trusted what they said and I shall miss them both.

  2. I can still hear Brian Hanrahan's voice reporting on the Falklands in 1982.
    How very sad to hear of his death.
    Jane x

  3. Jane - I imagine that for you, BH's reports from the Falklands would have been really important as Chris was out 'in the thick of it'. btw, your Christmas Bark recipe posted last week looks brilliant!

  4. I too remeber the Falklands reports and can hear his voice in my head whenever I have seen his picture over the last few days. Very sad!


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