Jonathan Mirsky

They Have Been at the Core of Great Events

People's Witness: The Journalist in Modern Politics

By

Yale University Press 352pp £18.95 order from our bookshop

In this big, rambling, usually interesting, occasionally fascinating, and often irritating book, Fred Inglis attempts two things: a survey of modern journalism (that is, the journalism of the last hundred or so years) and an examination of the lives of a couple of dozen star journalists and a few of the great monster-proprietors. The former he calls the ‘political journalists’, a very broad category indeed, ranging from war reporters to political novelists. Grandly, he pronounces (and Inglis has a tendency to express his beliefs in Olympian terms): ‘it has been political journalists who have been our best-known, even our leading storytellers.’ Yet more grandly, he says that these journalists work around ‘the edges of the century’s great events’; this, however, is often contradicted by Inglis’s well-told accounts of journalists working right at the core of great events.

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