Cameron Lecture

I am sceptical, as maybe are you, about my claims to give this lecture.  I have committed every known folly in our trade, and invented some of my own.  I have always held back from expounding theories of media practice, because I am so doubtful what they should be, beyond those of the ‘fifties Expressman who said: ‘Always take six carbons, and never stuff a colleague’.   Journalism is not a science, nor even a profession.  It is a craft, most successfully practised by rabid individualists.   Those who can, do.  Those who are past it, or in some cases have conspicuously failed at it, write columns about how it should be done.  A year or two ago, the Guardian media pages used to phone, inviting me to hold forth.  When I refused for the fourth time, the adolescent at the other end inquired why.  I asked: ‘Can you name one ex-editor who pontificates about newspapers whom you respect ?’.  He giggled.  I said: ‘I rest my case’.
The message which some superannuated editors deliver in sour and spiky media columns is that things were done better in their day.   It seems to me otiose to express such views when retrospective conceit is usually founded in delusions about the adequacy of our own tenures.   More important, times change.  A few months ago Will Lewis was civil enough to ask what I thought of the current Telegraph.  I passed.  I told him I thought the people with whom I worked on the paper had useful answers to its problems in the 1980s and nineties.  But 2008 is a different place.  When people ask whether I am sorry no longer to be running a newspaper, I say that I am only grateful to have no commercial responsibility, because the structural problems are so challenging.  I believe they will be solved.  I remain an optimist about print.  But the answers are likely to come from people much younger than me.
So tonight I am going to talk more about the past than the future.  My perspective is that of a reporter who only by a quirk of fate spent 16 years as an editor, a role which never entered my head until it was suddenly offered to me in 1985.   I am prouder of having been a reporter than of anything else I have done.  I can never understand the mania to become columnists among journalists, most of whom are much better employed doing other things.  As a polemicist, sure one gets a big picture byline and fixed platform.  But to be a reporter, a purveyor of information rather than comment, is the vital role.   Those who find out and publish things which are not already known, and which those who hold power do not wish to be known, together with men and women who can paint word portraits of scenes and events, appear far more worthy of respect than the commentariat,  even though these days I myself am a part-time member of it.
I fell in love with print from the first day in 1964 that I saw my own byline, over a feature in the Evening Standard on which the headline read: ‘In Athens, the hungry hitchhiker sells his blood’- what I did during the usual gap year trip round southern Europe.  I got L30 for the piece, which seemed good money.  I have been morbidly preoccupied with reward ever since, influenced by the fact that my father’s indifference to squalid money matters caused him- also a freelance journalist- to die broke.   The three questions which my kind ask most often are how many words, when, and for how much ?  Oh yes, and about life insurance.   It is crazy to go anywhere risky without ironclad cover.  I have been unwilling to allow my dependents to rely on the goodwill of a newspaper management since the day in 1968 when a Telegraph stringer dropped dead in Saigon.   Told that his body could be repatriated for the cost of a first-class air fare, the Telegraph dispatched the characteristic cable query: ‘Couldn’t he travel economy ?’.
Yet most even of us who love print have suffered moments of disaffection.  One day forty years ago, I was lunching with Simon Jenkins.  My finances were in an even more distressed state than usual.  I bemoaned to Simon the fact that we were so poorly paid by comparison with our City slicker friends- yes, a nasty worm of envy was there, even in that era.  I said crossly:  ‘I can’t think why I keep doing this’.  Simon said: ‘I’ll tell you.  It’s because it is the only thing you know how to do’.
Most journalists are unfit for any other occupation.   And those of us lucky enough to prosper with our pens discover a joy seldom shared in more lucrative trades.  When I was a teenager, my father gave me two pieces of advice.  The first was to marry a girl with fat legs, because they are better in bed.  I have never had a chance to discover whether this is true, because both the women to whom I have been fortunate enough to be married have very thin legs.  Father’s other advice was more pertinent.  He talked in lyrical terms about what he called ‘the challenge of a blank sheet of paper’.   At the time he said it, when I was maybe sixteen, his words meant little.  But in the rest of my life, they have come to mean a lot.
There is not a day, even now, when I do not get a thrill from sitting down at a keyboard and setting about filling it by five or six o’clock with a quota of words for a newspaper.  The old showbiz adage applies, that if you take care of the beginning and the end, the middle looks after itself.  I never go to bed happy unless I have written something for somebody.    I am sometimes asked how I can bring myself to write 1200 words on my experiences of camping or do-it-yourselfing as cheerfully as the same number about David Cameron’s party conference speech, or Obama’s chances of the US presidency.  The answer is that I love to write- about almost anything.  In that sense, I am a true hack.  I have never lost the thrill of seeing my byline on a page, of hearing the desk say ‘it’s on page 8’.  I am a shockingly bad holidaymaker, because I file from wherever my poor wife and I find ourselves.  David English once told me that he thought all great editors are obsessives.  Whether or nor that is true, all proper reporters are compulsive filers.

Jimmy Cameron was one.   I must be among the last people who will deliver this lecture who knew him as a colleague, though forty years ago the divide between his status and mine was unimaginably wide.  I remember three particular moments.   The first was in 1967, when I was an insanely ambitious 21 year-old, working at the Standard for that master of the clipped, nasal put-down, Charles Wintour.  As crisis beckoned between Israel and the Arab states, I sent a memo pleading for a role.  Charles replied in his inimitable fashion: ‘Dear Max, you are the fifth (and least qualified) reporter today to ask to be sent to the Middle East.  James Cameron is already airborne, and I have no intention of sending anyone else until it becomes plain that conflict is breaking out.  Exciting assignments do not hang on trees to be plucked by hungry young mouths’.
A fortnight later, Jimmy had covered himself in new glory with his coverage of the Six-Day War, and I was still tapping out paragraphs for Londoner’s Diary.   Charles wandered over to my desk and inquired: ‘Are you free at lunchtime ?’.  Absolutely, I said, beaming complacently at envious colleagues, though in truth I had a date with a rather pretty colleague.  Charles said: ‘Then you can go to Heathrow and meet Jimmy Cameron off the plane from Tel Aviv’.  I found myself cast in the humiliating role of the young tyro dispatched by Evelyn Waugh to greet Boot of the Beast, back from Abyssinia, and to carry the Cameron cleft sticks back to the office.
The following year, I found myself in slightly less ignominious proximity to Jimmy, playing second fiddle to his coverage of the riotous and bloody US Democratic Convention in Chicago.  I gained an insight into both the wit of Cameron prose, and the prurience of British newspapers of the time.  Jimmy wrote for the Standard: ‘The most popular graffiti on the walls of Chicago today is ‘Fuck Mayor Daley’.  This would not, I fear, be a popular assignment’.   After much agonising, Charles printed Jimmy’s first sentence without asterisks, but deleted the second.
Five years on, I had a small success of my own, reporting the 1973 Yom Kippur War.  Jimmy wrote me a wonderfully generous note about my coverage, but also included some reflections.  ‘I sometimes think’, he said, ‘that we are inclined to allow ourselves to become too intoxicated by the brilliance of Israel’s military performances, and not think enough about the shortcomings of Israel’s policies and diplomacy.  I know that I made this mistake in 1956 and 1967’.  He was absolutely right, of course, as we readily perceive today.
I hope you will forgive these wisps of anecdotage.  Not unnaturally, the invitation to give this lecture recalled Jimmy to my thoughts.  I won’t say he was the model to which I aspired, because my political views were a million miles from his.  But he represented supreme journalistic virtues.  He was a lyrical descriptive writer.  I remember as if it was yesterday his depiction of the Egyptian Army’s boots, littered in thousands across Sinai in 1967 after their owners had run for their lives.  More important, however, was his belief- which should be shared by everyone in our trade- that if the first duty of a journalist is to gather news, the second is to make trouble.
One of the most flattering compliments I ever received came from John Major when he was prime minister and I was Telegraph editor.  Douglas Hurd told me:   ‘John Major doesn’t like you.  He feels that he never knows what you are going to do next’.   It is surprising how many politicians look to journalists and newspapers for predictability.  In every generation, a few indeed indulge ministers with what my old boss Conrad Black called ‘a high comfort level’.  I have never been a wilful iconaclast, breaking china merely for the pleasure of hearing the noise.  I counted several Tory ministers as friends.  But no halfway decent journalist is bothered by the crash of porcelain.   We can go further, and say that any of us wholly trusted by the prime minister of the day is not doing their job properly.
When I became an editor and set about interviewing job candidates, I was chiefly interested in discovering whether they possessed that fanatical craving for a career in print which is much more important than brains.   Newspapers need a quota of normal, balanced human beings; but a larger number of definitely unbalanced people, who believe that getting the story is the most important thing in the world.  At 23, my own prose was pretty dire.  I sought to compensate with a manic commitment to producing splashes.
One January day in 1969, I found myself coming out of Biafra at the end of the war with a story about the Nigerian army’s takeover which nobody else had except my close friend John Clare of the Times, who shared with me the inevitable taxi back to Lagos.  In the first hours of that long, long ride, I found myself measuring time and distance.  If we could not file until we reached the capital, we would hit the Times’s editions, not the Evening Standard’s.   I would lose my scoop.  The only plausible means of preventing this outcome seemed to be to lure John out of the vehicle, then either drive off without him, or if necessary whack him over the head with the jack handle.  Now, as it happened I got a phone line to London from Benin, and thus my little scoop.  I escaped discovering how far I was willing to go.  I am grateful for that, because I might otherwise have served a longish stretch for grievous bodily harm.   I tell this story without pride, merely as an indication of how mad an ambitious young reporter can become, in pursuit of that beautiful, irresistible, infinitely seductive six-column double-decker headline.

In those years on the road, I learned to despise pack journalism.   To be sure, it is necessary to know what the pack is doing- but only in order oneself to do something different.  I once found myself in a flaming row with a rival correspondent in the Falklands who thought it unfair that I was catching a ride on an army helicopter to which he supposed himself entitled.  He said, among less quotable things: ‘it’s my turn’.  I said that I recognised no turns save devil take the hindmost.  It will always suit some journalists to pool a story, to share goodies around with the lads and ladettes.  But anybody who wants to prosper, to reach for stardom, ploughs his or her own furrow, and accepts the price in unpopularity.
I learned a huge amount from Charles Wintour. For instance, almost no story tagged ‘exclusive’ is likely to be both original and true.   ‘Any newspaper campaign’, he said, ‘should be winnable as well as popular’.  Any reader who writes letters to newspapers is, ipso facto, a candidate for secure accommodation.  Charles, even in his fifties, retained an infectious boyish enthusiasm for the story of the day, or even for the Londoner’s Diary lead of the day.  He was snobbish, nepotistic, and played shameless favourites, which worked to my advantage at the cost of a malicious rumour on the news desk that I was his illegitimate offspring.   He cherished his chosen people as an extended family, nurtured more talent than any editor of modern times except Harry Evans.  He was rewarded with passionate loyalty from those who gained his approval, and bitter resentment from those who did not.
Among other journalists who much influenced me was Nick Tomalin of the Sunday Times, whom I loved as well as boundlessly admired.  Nick, of course, coined the phrase about journalists’ need for ratlike cunning, a little literary ability, and- most important- the ability to believe passionately in second-rate projects.  When I rang him for advice before taking off on my first trip to Vietnam, he said: ‘Remember- they lie, they lie, they lie’.  So the Americans did, as do all governments, in war or peace.   When politicians denounce the deceits of newspapers and journalists, they sometimes have a point.   But we would get it right more often if our rulers deceived us with less frequency.  When Britain’s prime minister has just restored to the cabinet that monarch of mendacity Peter Mandelson, it becomes hard to wax indignant about the excesses of our trade.
The portability of print is one of the joys of newspaper reporters, unburdened with the electronic rubbish which encumbers every TV man.  We have the freedom to compose a story in the back of a helicopter, the front of a truck, a hut in the bush, often in half darkness when filthy dirty and sorely tired.  I remember one night riding in the almost empty hold of a huge American cargo plane, down to Saigon from the Central Highlands of Vietnam, while a few feet behind us lay the bodybag of a sergeant killed in the previous day’s fighting, surrounded by his pathetic possessions-  guitar, stereo, kitbag.   As we droned through the darkness, I found myself thinking about the unseemly struggle in those days of 1972 to avoid becoming the last American to die in Vietnam.  There and then, I scribbled a thousand words which got onto next day’s front page.  For television, one can seldom contrive that sort of spontaneity.  AGAIN STORY Even now, I love the immediacy of tapping at a keyboard in remote places, as I did the other night in the middle of Afghanistan, amid the clatter of helicopters and even the distant thud of an incoming rocket.   The prose of many of us profits from the adrenalin kick of writing in hot excitement rather than cool detachment.
The late 1960s represented a commercial low point for British newspapers. A lot of young things like me experienced a brief delusion that TV was the future.  I spent two years in front of a camera, which enabled me to explore my own shortcomings, and also the inherent limitations of television.  It is an awesome medium of impression, a chronically flawed medium of analysis.  It is almost impossible to use it to convey complex information or a nuanced argument.  No viewer in the tired evening hours retains any memory of broadcast facts or statistics.  The absolute priority of picture obliges a writer to devote much more time and energy to solving the technical problems of illustrating a story than to its content.   I am struck by the number of current affairs stars who sooner or later succumb to self-hatred, soured by the frustrations of the medium.
A cynic would say that my viewpoint was coloured by my own shortcomings as a TV performer.  I only know that I gain a satisfaction from writing words which work on a page which usually escapes me on camera.   I have made a few films I am not ashamed of.  Yet in my eyes, even if TV appearances confer on one a fleeting fame among taxi drivers and hotel receptionists, they never possess the magic of that uniquely tactile media product, a new newspaper hot from the press.   I am not foolish enough to underrate the internet as a source of information for a new generation.  Yet somehow, a reporter’s broadcast words never possess the power, and seldom generate the impact upon the body politic and the public, of a big story on a newsprint front page.   To be sure, TV today fuels a manic newspaper celebrity culture.   But at the serious end of our trade, it is the broadcasters who often feed upon print.   Many, many of their top stories derive from material which they have first seen in newspapers.
I look back fondly on the Falklands war because it offered a last, freakish opportunity for print journalists to dominate reporting of a great news event.  Had the Royal Navy not failed to provide facilities for live TV transmissions, writers could never have achieved the hold which we did on popular imagination.   That silly conflict was the last hurrah of an era of war corresponding which began with William Howard Russell.  It was wonderfully exhilarating to paint portraits of scenes and battles, men and ships and mountains, knowing that millions of people at home were utterly dependent on our phrases for their image of what was taking place, because moving pictures were absent.  I would certainly not have become an editor but for the notoriety conferred on me by those three months of 1982.

When I took over the Telegraph, I was acutely conscious that I had no experience of running anything except a pheasant shoot.   To resurrect the paper, I was dependent upon a group of colleagues whom I came to adore- Veronica Wadley, Nigel Wade, Neil Collins, Trevor Grove, George Jones, Jeremy Deedes and a few others- to enable me to carry off my own masquerade as an editor.  The one who taught me more than anyone else was Don Berry, formerly of Harry Evans’s Sunday Times, with whom I worked for 16 years at the Telegraph and Standard.  I had met Don when I wrote for the ST myself, just before I was appointed to the Telegraph and he became a Wapping refusenik.  I knew that he possessed technical skills which I woefully lacked, in design, lay-out and typography.
But he also possessed gifts which went far beyond these.  He became keeper of the conscience, not only of myself, but of the whole paper.   Each day, Don asked questions which any decent editor must ask, and asserted principles which any newspaper should respect- yet which some receive press awards for flouting.   The first was to demand of every story: ‘is it true ?’.  The second was ‘give readers the facts before you comment upon them’.   One day when I wrote a leader supporting Margaret Thatcher’s denunciation of the Irish attorney-general’s refusal to extradite an IRA suspect to Britain, Don said: ‘But we haven’t told people why the Irish government has done this’.  He insisted that we must fill columns of precious news space with the full text of the Dublin judgement, before running our leader.  He urged the importance of publishing a politician’s speech before offering a columnist’s view of it, together with generous extracts from important White Papers.   In the interminable debates which we conducted, about how to define the identity of our new Daily Telegraph, Don exercised a decisive influence in persuading me that it must above all be a news paper, rather than a comment paper.  I am not here saying that his view deserved to be eternally valid;  merely that Don flew the flag for the priority of newspapers as purveyors of information before also recognizing their function as platforms for opinion.  Then as now, it seemed to both him and me that Fleet Street possessed far more fixed slot columnists than there were competent practitioners to justify their space.
Many of Don’s precepts became fixed in my own mind.  For instance, never pose a question in a headline which is not answered in the copy below.    A redesign is not of itself a panacea for a struggling newspaper, as so many marketing managers fool themselves.  Design, Don argued, must grow out of content, not dictate it.  He taught me that graphics can be no better than the briefing provided by news reporters to the artist;  that successive pages must offer changes of pace;  that Sundays are different, and demand fresh minds to produce credible and original papers.
You may wonder why Conrad Black did not cut out me as middle man, and simply make Don Telegraph editor.  The answer is that he was fatally crippled by the fact that he is an incredibly nice man.  He once said to me: ‘I shall never be an editor, because I couldn’t do what you’ve done this morning’.  ‘What’s that ?’, I asked.  ‘Sacked four sub-editors’.   I did my utmost to make our good people feel valued, and the bad, idle, or drunken ones feel sufficiently unloved to go away.  William Rees-Mogg criticised me in print for being ‘a sacking editor’.  Yet Rees-Mogg was a notably unsuccessful editor because he saw himself as The Times’s chief leader writer, and cared little what went on at the back of the boat, in steerage.  Although I never wholly convinced my own staff that I read sports pages properly, I strove to persuade them that I cared mightily about every corner of the paper.  If my own editorships were flawed by the fact that I am not a political animal but merely a journalist who happens to have some political views, I suggest that obsessive political animals are generally unsuited to running newspapers.  People like Harry Evans, Paul Dacre, David English, Charles Wintour- acknowledged as the great editors of my time- have always pursued journalistic agendas which merely sometimes happens to be political.
I have a much better life today than I did as an editor, because one is free from the awful and unbroken strain.   There is only one aspect of the role which I miss- the collegiate one, working each day alongside wonderfully clever colleagues whom I held in deep respect, and even loved.  Some editors are one-man bands, presiding from remote summits.  But I was always aware that I could not last a day without the team who did the real work, and had most of the ideas.  Neil Collins, our City editor, often listened to me moaning for hours over lunch about my job, Conrad, the management, circulation, advertising and so on.   At the end of my great whinges, Neil would say: ‘Yeah, I understand all that.  But it beats working’.  So it does, for a host of people in our trade, lucky enough to spend our office hours doing something which rouses our deepest passions.
Today, amid widespread dismay among journalists about the shortcomings of some proprietors and managements, it is a common mistake to idealise newspapers of the past.  I am not persuaded that, collectively, current British owners are madder or nastier than their predecessors.    It is absurd to romanticise Northcliffe, Beaverbrook, Maxwell.  My mother, a veteran of 1950s Fleet Street, described to me the thrill of working for Beaverbrook’s titles in their heyday, above all because they were so well-resourced.  But she concluded: ‘Don’t listen to anybody who talks about Beaverbrook’s charm.  He was a horrible man’.  It has been said of the Beaver that he never espoused any cause in his titles that was both honourable and successful.  The Thomson era, an exceptionally enlightened proprietorship, was relatively brief.
In our own times, I was fortunate enough to work for Conrad Black during his early years as a proprietor, when he was amazingly indulgent to my political wetness.   He allowed himself to be persuaded that commercial success was more likely to come from pursuing a journalistic agenda than a political one.  Had I stayed at the Telegraph, however, it would have ended in tears. Conrad came to believe that he could make profits, and also pursue a right-wing agenda.  The Rothermeres pere et fils are by the most enlightened owners I have ever worked for.  They believe in journalism.  They invest generously in their titles.  They give editors extraordinary latitude.  I have never forgotten Jonathan asking me before the 2001 general election: ‘Who will the Evening Standard come out for ?’, without making the slightest attempt to influence the call.  That is the sort of proprietor who commands fierce loyalty from editors, as it certainly did from me.  The Rothermeres like journalists.  Rather than make or break governments, or pursue self-aggrandisement, they simply want to own successful titles.   As an industry, we would be in much better shape if there were more like them.

The proprietors and managements which lack regard for journalists and bound to fail.  It is bewildering that so many people aspire to own newspapers, while despising those who produce them.   The success of the Rothermeres- and I suppose we should add, Rupert Murdoch- reflects their understanding of the peculiar, undisciplined and erratic ways of the people who get their papers out.  The failure of other proprietorships, including at least one prominent family ownership today, reflects the fact that they want the power and influence which possession of a newspaper confers, the access to political leaders and sense of owning a private rifle range, while regarding their journalists as mere trained circus animals who should jump hoops to order.   They fail to understand that in the media as everywhere else in life, mutual respect is indispensable between those who pay the bills and those who deliver the goods.
Yet let us banish nostalgia.  The Daily Express may be dreadful now, but it has been pretty dreadful for the past 40 years.  Many titles have endured long periods of atrocious management, including the pre-Black Telegraph.  I have scanned the yellowing files of lots of 20th century newspapers.   Some did notable things and promoted outstanding talents.  But it is an illusion to think too highly of their overall quality.  The old Times and Telegraph may have been pillars of respectability, but they were infernally dull.  They often published unsceptically the deceits of those in high places, and sometimes deliberately colluded in them.   The old broadsheets conveyed much useful information such as is absent from their columns today, but they also did plenty which they should have been ashamed of.  When I became Telegraph editor, one of my first jobs was to get rid of a lot of specialist correspondents, who perceived their role as merely to recycle press releases.  Although Harry Evans’s Sunday Times produced some of the great scoops of the century, in between there were plenty of longeurs.  Quite large parts of the paper were less inspired than their modern counterparts.   The same might be said of David English’s Daily Mail.   Today, in their different ways the Financial Times, Guardian, Mail- and Evening Standard- have never been better.  The Sunday Times and Observer feature some of the finest journalists of their generation.
One new problem does seem worth mentioning, however.   Many reporters are now required to deliver news to readers and viewers through multiple outlets- podcasts, blogging, TV soundbites.  Yet their proper role is surely to gather information and translate it into publishable prose.  They should be trawling Britain, lunching and dining.  One of the most important parts of doing our job is simply to hang around.  Ignorant proprietors dismiss this as sloth.    Yet talking, listening, watching are our lifeblood.  If newspaper reporters and worse still, specialist writers are instead chained to a 24-hour, 7-day treadmill, servicing their organisation’s customers by land sea and air, or rather by print and blog and broadcast, devoting hours of each day to technical delivery functions, it seems as if they were being required to cook dinner in a restaurant’s kitchens, then hasten out in waiter’s aprons to serve it at table,  I cannot see how on these terms reporters can have time to acquire the information that enables them to have interesting things to say.
If I was still running a newspaper today, I would beseech my staff like an Old Testament prophet: ‘flee the tyranny of the screen, the sterility of inter-activity.  Get out there on your flat feet and find out something which we would not otherwise know’.   Malcolm Muggeridge, as far back as 1968, lamented a world in which, I quote, ‘there is so much information and so little knowledge.  A few seconds after Martin Luther King is shot there is no bullet, no King, only a story’.    Muggeridge was not wrong.    He was an early harbinger of doom at the birth of the soundbite society.
Yet forty years after he wrote those words, it seems astonishing not merely how many newspapers survive, but how much good journalism some contain.     Substantial sections of the print industry, including local titles, are in structural decline.  No modern newspaper can underrate the importance of offering its wares online.  Yet those titles which still offer readers the serendipity of well edited and packaged products, together with content created by outstanding writers, still sell staggering numbers of copies.  British newspapers boast some of the worst journalists in the world, but still also some of the best.  For years, we have been fixated by the ageing profiles of our readerships.  I remember joking back in 1986 that the cheapest marketing option for the struggling Daily Telegraph would be to offer massed injections of monkey glands to its zimmer-frame readership.  But I now think we were wrong to become so obsessed with this.  Sure, Western societies are ageing.  But our new longevity seems to promise both leisure and willingness for a sufficiency of people to keep reading newspapers in the old way.
Trollope’s Dean Arabin observed disdainfully: ‘I know no life that must be so delicious as that of a writer for newspapers…to thunder false accusations against men in power, pick holes in every coat, to damn with faint praise or crush with open calumny !  What can be so easy as this when the critic has to be responsible for nothing ?’.  Yet Bernard Levin once memorably asserted that irresponsibility is at the heart of the function of the press in a democratic society.  If this was characteristic hyperbole, there is something important in it.   I should like to think that, over the past 45 years, I have been as irresponsible as most, and will try to continue to be.  Arthur Miller memorably said that ‘a good newspaper is a nation talking to itself’.  I doubt whether such a compliment will ever be paid to the net, however important is its role in the new world.  Newspapers have changed, are changing, and must continue to change.   In the face of sliding circulations, today they badly need an injection of self-confidence, as well as the confidence of others.  But I cherish a faith that they will survive and can prosper as hubs of a multi-media world, the finest platforms that anyone who calls himself or herself a journalist can aspire to.   I think myself amazingly fortunate, to have been rewarded so handsomely for so long to live a wonderfully happy life in print.   Like Neil Collins said: ‘It beats working’.

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