Six of the best with Geoffrey Goodman: 'My story helped bring an end to the Vietnam war'

Geoffrey Goodman was industrial editor of the Daily Mirror and founding editor of the British Journalism Review

Who is the best editor that you’ve worked with?

To be asked this is a huge challenge since my answer has to embrace qualities, some of which may appear out of date in a trade plunged into vast cultural change.

Even so I have little hesitation about selecting Hugh Cudlipp of the Daily Mirror as my choice.

Why? When I delivered the fourth Cudlipp memorial lecture at the London Press Club ten years ago, I described Cudlipp as the greatest popular journalist of 20th century British journalism.

I do not withdraw a single word of that description. Cudlipp himself would have brushed aside the claim – not from modesty which was not one of his strongest characteristics – but because he was selflessly objective about the origins of the Daily Mirror’s success story.

His claim was that the original genius was Harry Guy Bartholomew, (‘Bart’ as he was known) who first appointed Cudlipp to the Mirror Group.

The truth is it was Cudlipp who picked up from a cantankerous and failing Bartholomew and turned the Daily Mirror into the biggest daily sale of any national daily anywhere in the 1950s and 60s.

Best journalist?

Simple answer – James Cameron. No reporter – for that is essentially what James was, a great reporter – had Cameron’s quality of brilliant and sympathetic irreverence; nor his capacity, especially as a foreign correspondent and war reporter to capture reality and project human tragedy, paradox and heroism, in everything his pen, and typewriter, touched.

And, above all, to retain an extraordinary modesty in all his dealings with fellow journalists.

Best story you worked on?

When working for the long-deceased Daily Herald I stumbled on a remarkable story of a secret meeting in Paris to find a peace formula for the Vietnam war.

I interviewed the participants in Paris and filed the story, which was then picked up by the BBC and transmitted worldwide.

In fact it was the first step to what eventually resulted in a settlement of the war.

Best regional paper?

The old Manchester Guardian when it was a regional daily based solely in Manchester.

Now I think my vote would go to the Yorkshire Post.

Reason: overall news and feature coverage with a firm attempt to retain old reporting standards.

Best magazine?

I fear I am rather orthodox in this selection, I go for Private Eye; still a ‘must’ read in our trade even if somewhat more predictable than it once was.

Best book about journalism?

Probably the most difficult question of all. There have been many superb books on the subject and not only in English nor confined to Britain or the United States.

My choice goes to the person referred to in my first answer about the best editor, Hugh Cudlipp. I think his extraordinary book Publish and be Damned (first published in 1953 and recently re-published by Revel Barker Publishing) gets my vote.

It is not only the astonishing story of the Daily Mirror (as its blurb claims), it is in fact it is the most brilliantly told story of Fleet Street.

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