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The Watergate Factor


It used to be that journalism on both sides of the Atlantic offered a good path out of the ghetto for working class kids who did not excel at professional sport. Of course, not all journalists were products of the mean streets but the ones that weren't usually wrote for papers hardly anyone read. Then came Watergate and journalism became sexy. Rich and privileged kids, especially in the United States, decided they wanted to bring down governments too. And being rich and privileged, these kids got what they wanted. All the President's Men became their talisman and bible. I read the book while I was working in Newcastle upon Tyne. A lot of it didn't make much sense. But, I thought, maybe journalism works differently in North America. I now know the operating procedures for good journalism are the same on both sides of the Atlantic. But thanks to All the Presidents Men, there isn't so much good journalism around nowadays. What we've ended up with is a bunch of so-called journalists who didn't see Trump or Brexit coming because the lives of ordinary people are as alien to them as the Queen would find life in Cranhill, Pilton, Wester Hailes or Easterhouse. Horses for courses and fewer blue bloods in the reporters' room, I say. A good newspaper has staff from a wide variety of backgrounds. Right now, on both sides of the Atlantic (I can't comment on the Antipodes), there are too many who have basically been able to buy their berths thanks to an accident of birth.

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