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The art of news

Journalism was about facts. Today, newspapers are dominated by the writer-intellectual who is more concerned with perfecting prose than reporting news

Shortly after the second world war the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association persuaded the Glasgow Herald to introduce a two-year training scheme for Oxbridge graduates who wanted to become professional journalists-then, unlike now, a rare breed. It was my good fortune to be chosen as the first guinea pig. But not once throughout the whole two-year period was I allowed to write a single sentence of my own. Instead, the job consisted of sub-editing the writing of others-checking and, if necessary, correcting their facts, their spelling and their grammar. Even that description aggrandises the nature of my task. For at least the…

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