Press & media

Goodman, Geoffrey (7 of 9).  Oral History of the British Press

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  • Recording date

    2008-02-18, 2008-02-29, 2008-04-16, 2008-04-28, 2008-05-19, 2008-06-11, 2008-07-07, 2008-07-21

  • Recording locations

    British Library, London

  • Interviewees

    Goodman, Geoffrey, 1922-2013 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Brodie, Louise (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 7: The 1960s were a sort of watershed decade. Youngsters were growing up who knew little about the war, the moral climate and role of women changed, technological revolution, Cuba, John Kennedy. Harold Wilson’s victories in 1964 and 1966. GG was with HW every day during the election period; respect for him. HW’s cabinet was very distinguished. [8:08] Roy Jenkins was arguably the most reforming Home Secretary; reforms about homosexuals, childcare. Clinical revolution in the health service. [11:37] GG got a scholarship to Harvard, the Henry Kissinger Seminar; based in Boston. He did some journalism for the Daily Herald while there. They had daily lectures and travelled. HK went to the 1964 Republican convention. The DH was transformed into the Odhams Sun. It was a terrific year for GG. [19:31] GG’s views on Wilson, comparison with Nye Bevan. The Left was out of touch with changing world. Hypocrisy and deviousness sadly necessary. Labour inherited difficult economic situation Social pressures, and global change, developed too fast to cope with it; devaluation of pound [28:19] Sun taken over by Rupert Murdoch; became a Berliner size, in between the tabloid and broadsheet. Views of people at the DH; Hugh Cudlipp and others changed things as they went along. Story of the title. [33:50] GG had considerable editorial responsibility at the Sun. The old DH readership was heavily male, northern and working class. The Sun did not really know who to appeal to. Its circulation fell rapidly. Advertising still aimed at old DH readership. GG put forward the idea with others that it should become more serious - a left of centre Telegraph. [41:50] It was sold to RM, GG would not work for him; knew he would go downmarket. GG had an offer from the BBC - doing a lot of broadcasting also from the Guardian as the Whitehall correspondent. Accepted Sydney Jacobson’s invitation onto the Daily Mirror: good facilities. GG got on with well with editor Lee Howard; dominance of Hugh Cudlipp. [48:29] GG had an amazing amount of editorial freedom. GG’s criticism of Wilson and Heath industrial relations legislation. Mike Christiansen and Mike Molloy followed Lee Howard. [54:17]GG offered a journalist fellowship at Nuffield College, Oxford. GG wrote his biography of Frank Cousins.GG recalled for the 1979 election, to work as closely as possibly with Jim Callaghan. [58:19] Mid 1970s economic crisis: 1974 elections; the social contract. GG ate Transport workers conference 1975, and was called to see HW. He wanted GG to take charge of Counter Inflation Unit, with £2 million budget and 6 staff at grade of Deputy Secretary in the civil service, making contact with union leaders, employers and opposition. [1:07:10] Details. GG wanted unions to exercise responsibility. It was a learning exercise for GG too. Work inside Whitehall weakens one’s responsibility as a journalist. The best journalists are often controversial; price paid for taking position of authority. GG’s recognition of difficulties of governing. [1:13:30] Because GG came to admire HW as result. [1:16:28] GG’s propaganda had a measure of success; discussions with William Whitlaw. GG had to take advertising in various newspapers; statements from leaders in different fields showed both sides of industry agreed that something should be done by each of them. Difficulties over placing advertisements in Morning Star and on ITV. [1:16:15] Some trades unions were persuaded to support government policy by GG’s involvement. Employers co-operative once the social contract had been agreed. GG wrote a pamphlet circulated to every house in the country; sat in cabinet committee to explain how it was all going. Tony Benn was very hostile. GG got both sides of industry to talk to each other. [1:34:27] GG went back to the DM in 1976. Sydney Jacobson came to help GG towards the end of this government job. Decline of GG’s unit after Wilson’s resignation. On GG’s last day he had lunch with JC, and he offered GG an honour, like a knighthood, but GG knew now the compromises that were made and saw this as a serious professional handicap, so he refused.

  • Description

    Life story interview with journalist Geoffrey Goodman

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