UPDATED: Tom Bower urges young journalists to hold the powerful to account

 

 

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By Henry Valantine

Investigative journalist and biographer Tom Bower believes the key to unearthing good stories about those in power is to ‘find the victims’.

Tom explained how scepticism and searching different avenues for a story had led him to his position today as one of Britain’s top investigative reporters.

He has written more than 20 books and created more than 200 documentaries for the BBC, including unauthorised biographies of Tony Blair, Mohamed Al Fayed, Gordon Brown and Simon Cowell, among others, as well as producing for the BBC’s flagship investigative show Panorama.

As a journalist who has specialised in holding the powerful to account, Tom stressed how important it was for the young journalists to carry on the principle of the Fourth Estate.

He said: “One of the most interesting things in journalism is that interviewees have an agenda. They don’t want to meet you because they love you, they meet you because they have something to say about someone else.

“The role of the journalist is very important in all of this, and that is to tell the story. The way you tell your story is to write it with a narrative with a climax, it has to have a build-up, it has to be paced.

“Why are the buggers lying to me? That is very much at the heart of journalism, to not believe what everyone is saying and subject everything to scrutiny.”

He told the packed Journalism Week audience about his experiences in Formula One, saying: “When I got more and more into the sport I got a call from Bernie Ecclestone asking me to come to lunch.

“I told him I don’t do authorised books. You won’t read it before it gets published. If I discover you are a crook it will go into the book,” to which Ecclestone retorted: ‘I’m no angel!’ – and that became the name of the book.”

 

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