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'Shuffle along, ladies'

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The right person rarely gets the credit
Katharine Whitehorn Writer
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The way in which newspapers are managed is also important, and I don’t know much about it. You can go and interview somebody who did. But I mentioned Heather Brooke the other day. She left America because she is fed up with the way that multimedia... the whole linking of the 'net' and printing and television and so on is all... that the editors spend half their time in conferences with the other bits, instead of actually, you know, head down, smoking cigarettes, working on what’s the news for today.

And she was fed up with this totally corporate commercial culture... came to Britain... but she said, the Americans are much better at finding out things people don’t want them to find out by using the Freedom of Information Act. And British journalists who dig... but they are... do it much more on contacts, people are prepared to spill the beans behind the door. And so she was the person who actually blew this. And at the Press Club lunch, I was going to say last year but heaven knows when anybody will be listening to this... the Press Club lunch in 2009, the editor of The Daily Telegraph did the speech. And he did the whole of his speech about what a marvellous thing they had made of the scandal of the expenses, and he never once mentioned where the information came from. He used the phrase, 'We heard there was this dossier going around'.

Well fortunately several people put him right before the meeting was over. But I think there will always be a bit of difficulty, not so much about women getting the credit, but the right person getting the credit, whoever they are.

A distinguished journalist and renowned author, Katharine Whitehorn has written for The Spectator and Picture Post. She was the first woman to have her own column in the Observer and was their star columnist for the best part of 40 years. Educated at Newnham College, Cambridge, she is recognised as someone who has transformed 20th century women's journalism. She takes a keen interest in social welfare issues, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and was the first woman rector of the University of St Andrews.

Listeners: Bob Bee

Bob Bee is a Scottish documentary maker who has made many films on the Arts and Science for ITV, BBC and Channel Four.

Tags: The Daily Telegraph, Press Club, Freedom of Information Act, Heather Rose Brooke

Duration: 1 minute, 55 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2010

Date story went live: 16 February 2011