Mick’s modest encomium to Charles Wheeler is on Brassneck and Brian’s personal recollection of the man and journalist is here. Jeremy Paxman provided his own tribute to the “sometimes irascible, inherently honest” Charles Wheeler for Newsnight. Part 2 is here and below the fold. Adds Radio 4’s tribute to Charles Wheeler – In his own words is available here [Realplayer file].
Here’s the second part of Jeremy Paxman’s tribute
Mick picked up on an important point in Martin Bell’s CommentisFree post
“In the 1960s, when he and Gerald Priestland ran the BBC’s Washington bureau (always an uneasy partnership), TV news was still in its infancy. Wheeler helped it grow up. His reports on the civil rights movement in the south were models of their kind, but also extremely bold. He broke away from the “on the one hand this and on the other hand that” traditions of BBC reporting. If he felt that something was wrong, he found a way of saying so. I was told that some of his work drew sharp intakes of breath from the senior managers of the time, for they had no taste for controversial journalism, but to their credit they let him get on with it.”
As Mick goes on to say
In fact, it’s not a problem that the BBC has quite got over to this day. Indeed, the Producers’ guidelines forbid it. Wheeler was exceptional in his time, and remains so to this day. I’m not sure whether or not Wheeler ever approved of Bell’s own model of ‘journalism of attachment’ either. But I would doubt it.
Wheeler’s approach was closer to how Oliver Kamm described the essence of good journalism on his blog a few years back. It should seek to:
..describe the world as accurately as he is able, aware of the partiality of his information and his personal bias, but determined not to abridge the truth so as to avoid offending sensibilities.