Fifty Years Before The Masthead

Political journalist Anthony Howard takes an autobiographical journey through fifty years in the newspaper industry.



Political journalist Anthony Howard takes an autobiographical journey through half a century in the newspaper industry.

01The Dreaming Spires20080618

At Oxford, Howard wrote what was probably the first profile of Michael Heseltine, who describes how they have remained friends despite their political differences.

Then came national service.

Michael Parkinson, then a captain in press relations, recalls an anonymous soldier sending despatches back home during the Suez crisis.

It turned out to be Howard, who would later join Parkinson on The Guardian.

02A Vanished World *20080625

Howard gets his introduction to Fleet Street on the now defunct co-operative newspaper Reynolds News.

Working on the Guardian in Manchester, he meets Michael Parkinson and declines an invitation from Lord Beaverbrook.

Writer and historian Paul Johnson describes how Howard landed him with a libel action against The New Statesman.

03Escape To Washington *20080702

Howard becomes Whitehall Correspondent for The Sunday Times but discovers no one will talk to him because of a memo written by prime minister Harold Wilson forbidding ministers from doing so.

He escapes to Washington where he covers one of the most momentous periods in American political history.

Broadcaster Sue McGregor recalls Howard's broadcasts from the other side of the Atlantic for the fledgling World at One and former correspondent Charles Wheeler reveals how the BBC went virtually unrecognised on Capitol Hill until the popular mini series The Forsyte Saga was screened on American television.

Howard returns to London to edit The New Statesman, recruiting novelists Julian Barnes and Martin Amis, who remember their days at the magazine with great fondness.

04 LASTThe Elysian Fields *20080709

Howard gives up the editorship of the BBC publication The Listener to become deputy editor of The Observer.

He recruits Robert Harris who recalls his employer once comparing the future author of Fatherland's prose style to 'something assembled by a perfectly competent pork butcher'.

Life at The Observer proves to be a mixed blessing under the proprietorship of Tiny Rowland, the chief executive of Lonrho, who is keen for the paper to support Margaret Thatcher until they fall out over her failure to stop Mohamed Al Fayed buying Harrods (which Roland wanted for himself).

Rescue comes in the form of a job at the BBC, followed by work on the obituaries page of the Times.