Tag Archives: News Of The World

2011 ➤ Telling the Truth: a TV doc with a message for the times we live in

Robert Redford ,Dustin Hoffman ,All the President’s Men

“Woodstein” the investigating double act: Robert Redford cast as Bob Woodward and Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein in the colour-coded Washington Post newsroom built in Hollywood for the 1976 movie All the President’s Men

All the President’s Men, Jason Robards, Ben Bradlee

Fingertap. Clap hands. — Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee expressing his elation in All the President’s Men, after finally approving Woodward and Bernstein’s story of the century: “Run that baby!” [Exactly the same gesture that Charles Wintour would give at the London Evening Standard when elated]

◼ ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN should be compulsive viewing for everybody in public life in the UK right now. This, Robert Redford’s greatest achievement as producer, is also the greatest movie about how good journalism works. It examined the greatest crime in the history of American politics: the Watergate conspiracy that disgraced the White House in 1973. The scandal gave to our language the all-purpose suffix “-gate” for any corrupt activity in public life.

The film showed American journalism at the height of its power, and gave the language the team nickname “Woodstein”, derived from the two 30-year-old reporters who scooped the world, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Their investigations would lead in 1975 to the takedown of the highest office in the land: the presidency of Richard Nixon.

In 2006 a thorough and thrilling half-hour TV doc appeared titled Telling the Truth About Lies, reporting on the making of the 1976 feature film, All the President’s Men, directed by Alan J. Pakula and written by William Goldman. The doc directed by Gary Leva is as steeped in the integrity of the screenwriters and film-makers as much as the feature movie itself faithfully tries to honour the diligence and persistence and courage of everybody at the Washington Post, under the editorship of Ben Bradlee and the enlightened direction of its publisher Katharine Graham. Leva was of course finally able to report the identity of Deep Throat, Woodstein’s anonymous senior source in the FBI, which had remained a mystery for three decades.

Katharine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post for three decades: here with reporters Carl Bernstein, left, and Bob Woodward in 1972. She put Ben Bradlee in charge and gave him “remarkable freedom in the newsroom”. (Copyright Mark Godfrey. Estate of Katharine Graham)

It was ATPM that inspired Nick Davies, the Guardian’s key reporter who has dug deep into the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, to become an investigative journalist. Given the current climate of ineffectuality and guilt spreading through Britain’s parliament, police and press — as documented in this week’s Spectator under the claim that “The omertà of Britain’s press and politicians on phone-hacking amounts to complicity in crime” — All the President’s Men should be a reminder to everybody in the British press today of the campaigning John Pilger’s famous charge that the first duty of journalists is to be “tribunes of the people”.

All the President’s Men, Jason Robards ,Ben Bradlee

Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee in All the President’s Men: click on image to run video clip

❏ Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee: “You guys are about to write a story that says the former attorney general, the highest ranking law enforcement officer in this country, is a crook. Just be sure you’re right.”

❏ ATPM on video — “We haven’t had any luck yet” — “Get some.”

❏ Producer and star Robert Redford who played reporter Bob Woodward: “I had to be extra diligent on being authentic. I spent so much time focussing on detail — the tiniest, tiniest details were important.”

All the President's Men, books, Woodward, Bernstein❏ Bob Woodward on writing the book on which the film was based: “Carl Bernstein and I were going to do a standard narrative about Watergate from the perspective of the Nixon White House” . . . Redford: “I said my interest is different, my interest is you guys and how you worked” . . . Bernstein: “Woodward came up to me one day and said he’d gotten a call from Robert Redford, and I said what the hell about? And he said, well, he thinks the story is really us. At the time we were still reporting the story and we sure didn’t think the story was really us.”

❏ Redford on the Woodstein team: “One guy was a Wasp, the other guy was a Jew. One was a Republican, the other guy was a radical liberal. They didn’t really care for each other but they had to work together. Now, that dynamic is character driven.” It is also so often the truth about working relationships in a newspaper office. You don’t have to like each other to produce first-class journalism.

❏ The Washington Post was sceptical about cooperating, Redford said, because the film could turn out to be “Hollywood crap”. Screenwriter William Goldman: “I was terrified because you knew that everybody who was going to talk about this film had at one time or another been in a newsroom. We knew if we Hollywooded it up we would be in terrible trouble.” The film nevertheless won four Oscars in 1976.


❏ ATPM on video — Ben Bradlee: “Nothing’s riding on this except the first amendment of the constitution, freedom of the press and maybe the future of the country.”


Allan Gregg In Conversation (above): Did you see a change in behaviour of politicians post-Watergate?

Ben Bradlee: “I thought I did for a few years afterwards. 1974 brought in a whole new young idealistic breed of congressman. For a while their ethics cast a shadow on the American political scene. It’s taken some years for them to work their way out of the system.

“But I don’t think I saw a fundamental change. I saw an increase in the fear of getting caught. I saw an increase in the quality of journalists joining the business – it attracted a lot of good young energetic people who were bright and dedicated. But, in long haul, I’m quite discouraged about the ethical content of American political life… Lying has become second nature to people; to fib first, and then lie.”

Coffee House, Economist
➢ Back to the coffee house: the internet is taking the news industry back to the conversational culture of the era before mass media — The Economist July 7 (above)

➢ News of the World fallout could change Britain’s media culture: “Do we want to replicate the media culture of countries such as France where three or four posh papers are read by a tiny proportion of the population?” — John Kampfner in today’s Guardian


➤ Nick Davies declared “the greatest living British journalist” as Carl Bernstein declares “Murdoch’s Watergate?”

 Nick Davies, News of The World, phone-hacking, journalism

The Guardian’s Nick Davies: giving evidence to the Commons media committee in 2009. Photograph by PA

◼ BRITAIN’S BIGGEST-SELLING NEWSPAPER, the tabloid News of the World, closes tomorrow, a victim of its own phone-hacking scandal. First published 168 years ago, this hugely powerful title became the most toxic media brand in the land, all within the week. And much of the cause was down to the work of one investigative journalist, Nick Davies of The Guardian newspaper.

“ I have no doubt at all that Nick Davies is the greatest living British journalist ” — Peter Oborne, chief political commentator on the rival newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, speaking on Radio 4 tonight

➢ Listen to Jonathan Maitland’s profile of Nick Davies,
on BBC Radio 4 (July 9 and on iPlayer)

➢ “Cameron is in the sewer” — Peter Oborne at his
Daily Telegraph blog

Nick Davies is considered one of Britain’s leading investigative journalists. 
He has broken numerous stories, mostly for The Guardian. His scoops include the story about the nurse turned serial child murderer, Beverley Allitt, and the recent WikiLeaks revelations in classified US military and diplomatic documents. He it was who tracked down Julian Assange and persuaded him not to post his latest secrets on the WikiLeaks website but to hand them over to The Guardian. 
Among his published books, Flat Earth News accuses British newspapers of what he calls “churnalism”, churning out stories based entirely on PR, press releases or wire copy, without further fact-checking.

One irony is that in this year’s Society of Editors awards, Davies lost the award for News Reporter of the Year to Mazher Mahmood (the “Fake sheikh”) of the News of the World, whose winning submissions included exposing the Pakistan cricket match-fixing ring, and the claim that Fergie “sells” Andy for £500k. [Update July 10: In the NoW’s final issue, “crimebuster” Mahmood reminds us of the 250 successful prosecutions his investigations have achieved over 20 years, from paedophiles, arms dealers, drug peddlers and people traffickers to bent doctors and lawyers.]

Among the awards listed in his Debrett’s People of Today profile, Davies is cited as Feature Writer of the Year 1997, Journalist of the Year 1998, Reporter of the Year 1999, Martha Gellhorn Award 1999, European Journalism Prize 2003.

The Milly Dowler story changed the politics of the whole saga and made it impossible for anybody to defend the News of the World and that included the prime minister and the Tory leadership… And so they’ve switched sides, specifically on the question of whether there should be a public inquiry.
➢ Davies on pursuing the phone hacking investigation — on video at Guardian online

Davies decided to become an investigative journalist after seeing the brilliant film All the President’s Men, about the US journalists who cracked the Watergate conspiracy that brought down president Richard Nixon in 1973 and helped indict and jail numerous Nixon aides…

All the President’s Men, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford

All the President’s Men, 1976: Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford playing the Woodstein investigative team in a film studio

➢ VIEW the terrific trailer for All the President’s Men

◼ OF ALL THE MOVIES ABOUT JOURNALISM the best by far is All the President’s Men. It tells the real-life story of how two young reporters on the Washington Post saw the corrupt American president Richard Nixon out of office. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman play the “Woodstein” team of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, both hitting 30 when they pulled off their scoops about conspiracy in the White House. The Oscar-winning film is a gripping thriller that also gives the most authentic view of newspaper life yet, shot in an exact replica of the colour-coded Washington Post newsroom, built by knocking together two Warner soundstages in Burbank and ensuring all the coffee-cups and paperwork came from the real office 2,000 miles away.

Jason Robards won the 1976 Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his charismatic depiction of the executive editor Ben Bradlee. “WOODSTEIN!!! Get in here!” At the press screening this writer attended, he raised repeated cheers for his oh-so-true-to-life rigour as he harried the young reporters again and again when they failed to convince him they had the scoop of the century. Our hearts sank, along with theirs, as Bradlee took his pen to their report and deleted line after line after line. We’ve all had bosses like him. “Get some harder information.” – “We haven’t had any luck yet.” – “Get some.” This film excels for showing how good newspapers work.

➢ Read: Murdoch’s Watergate? by Carl Bernstein FOR Newsweek

Watergate ,Bob Woodward , Carl Bernstein ,Washington Post

The real thing: Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in the Washington Post offices at the height of the Watergate investigation. (Associated Press)

◼ TODAY ON NEWSWEEK’S WEBSITE Pulitzer Prize-winning Carl Bernstein draws a comparison between Nixon’s downfall and the anything-goes approach of News of the World owner Rupert Murdoch and how it threatens to undermine the influence he so covets…

The hacking scandal currently shaking Rupert Murdoch’s empire will surprise only those who have wilfully blinded themselves to that empire’s pernicious influence on journalism in the English-speaking world. Too many of us have winked in amusement at the salaciousness without considering the larger corruption of journalism and politics promulgated by Murdoch Culture on both sides of the Atlantic.

The facts of the case are astonishing in their scope. Thousands of private phone messages hacked, presumably by people affiliated with the Murdoch-owned News of the World newspaper, with the violated parties ranging from Prince William and actor Hugh Grant to murder victims and families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

➢ How The Guardian broke the story — Murdoch papers paid £1m to gag phone-hacking victims

➢ Yesterday’s Media Talk podcast: Alan Rusbridger, Nick Davies, Roy Greenslade and Janine Gibson

➢ A message for the times we live in: How good journalism worked at the Washington Post

News Of The World, final issue,first issue,

48-page freebie: today’s News Of The World includes a souvenir of famous pages since the paper was first published on Sunday October 1, 1843, including “Crippen’s life at sea” as the killer doctor fled abroad in 1910 and “Prince Harry’s racist video shame” in 2009. During the 1950s — under its slogan Henry James’s phrase “All human life is there” — sales averaged 8.4m copies weekly. Its latest average sale was 2.6m copies

➢ News of the World doubles print run to 5m for final issue and all proceeds go to charity — Sunday update: local shop sent 50 copies instead of its usual six. The website notw.co.uk will be free to the public all July 10