Ref NoOHP/107
TitleDavid Fairhall
DateNovember 2002-March 2003
Extent4 minidiscs, 4 cds, 1 file, 13 AIFF files (2.35 GB)
Creator NameFairhall; David Kier; journalist
DescriptionInterview with David Fairhall, journalist for the Guardian. Conducted by Leslie Plommer and Richard Norton-Taylor between November 2002- March 2003. Also includes a data sheet containing biographical details about the subject and information about the recording.

Summary contents of interview (with rough timings):

Disc 1 - recorded 27 November 2002, with Richard Norton-Taylor
Track 1
00.55 Read economics at LSE then National Service in the Navy as a Russian interpreter.
00.55 After the Navy he got a job at LSE studying Soviet shipping
01.58 After his first book on Russian shipping decided to try journalism -wrote to all the nationals
02.43 Went to the Guardian in Manchester in 1960 to work on the industrial staff
04.58 Covered Francis Chichester's voyage across the Atlantic - first newspaper sponsorship of that kind
04.58 Innovative technology used for radioing back from the yacht
04.58 Talks of the cover-up of the Vinland map discovery
07.00 Discusses quirks of Alastair Hetherington
08.28 Early 1960s becomes shipping correspondent and moves to London
09.13 Takes over as aviation and transport correspondent
09.13 Took on defence In 1965, when Clare Hollingworth left

10.50 Hollingworth role in the outing of Philby as a spy
14.33 Assesses the importance of aviation as a story
14.33 Jet propulsion developmnent, Concorde, Jumbo development
16.30 In the mid-60s arranges Guardian's very first opinion poll - on Concorde, would people tolerate it flying over land 16.30 Can't remember poll result but the Guardian then got into the habit of doing polls
18.44 Development of Concorde and the first flights of other aircraft

20.55 As shipping corr went on first voyages - and last ones
21.45 Covers maiden voyage of QE2 filed by ship to shore radio telephone
23.22 Talks of covering wars - his first for Guardian was Vietnam

Track 2
00.10 Discusses covering the Yom Kippur war; the war of attrition
00.10 In the middle of terrorist attacks in Tel Aviv, Israeli censorship and how to get round it

Track 3
00.10 Discussion of terrorist attacks in the 1980s
03.54 More discussion of terrorists attacks with the start of the suicide bombings

Track 4
00.01 The original design of nuclear power stations and US submarine power reactors
07.16 Chernobyl 1986 Russia's system was primitive, poorly maintained and they were careless
07.16 Talks of the explosion and plotting from Britain, where the cloud would go
09.14 Visits Chernobyl on the 6th anniversary - emotionally the most significant story he wrote

Track 5

Disc 2
Track 1 (with Richard Norton Taylor)
00.01 Nuclear power
00.50 Greenham Common issue
05.45 Importance of Greenham as a staging post to the end of the Cold War
06.20 Best scoop was before the protests when he worked out where the cruise missile would be
08.36 Sarah Tisdall leak
09.00 Greenham protesters didn't succeed but their protest was very important

10.24 The Friday night the leaked Tisdall document arrived in the office
12.26 Lessons from the Tisdall case - nobody knew who had sent the document
12.26 Lawyers gave bad advice. Now one knows what to do - copy documents and then destroy them

Track 2
00.44 Nato, its success but wonders whether it was necessary
04.06 Discusses conventional defences
07.00 The Wall comes down, some said that Nato was finished - disagreed
09.00 How the Brits ran Nato

10.29 Whether Nato has a future
12.00 Nato's pros and cons
16.00 Military success in Bosnia

21.00 Praises the British military - no other army exercises the same degree of restraint

Track 3 - recorded 10 March 2003
00.00 Recorded just before the US/Brit invasion of Iraq
01.03 Previous Gulf war in the run-up to the present conflict
03.30 How he covered the war, based in Saudi
04.15 The US launched the war, their prowess and the capabilities of the Iraqi army
06.30 How the war could have been fought
08.00 Analyses the horrendous complications that followed - Kurds, Basra.
09.54 The lesson the US took from that war was their air power was successful
09.54 US went on to apply it successfully in Bosnia, less so in Kosovo, then again in Afghanistan

11.00 Against this perception of air power supremacy - discovery that US technology didn't work
13.27 Wrote a story saying that the US Star Wars programme wouldn't work
15.45 How the Guardian covered the first Gulf War
16.53 Important not to dismiss contact with the military but also have to have other perspectives
19.42 Discusses the Army's superior intelligence to the Navy and Air Force

22.15 Talks about how the Guardian deployed its correspondents to cover the war

30.00 Very different for coverage of Falklands war - no sat phones, journos crippled by the military
30.00 Communication difficulties in war

Disc 3:
Track 1
01.02 How in his time the Guardian the paper has been transformed
01.37 It was a small eccentric, distinguished paper
01.37 Explains how it has changed
03.00 How he had to expand their briefs to keep the paper alive
04.40 Talks of how graphics, which he was keen on, were brought onto the paper
06.00 Guardian finally began to make money
07.50 His role was to explain complicated issues so the reader was not taken by surprise

10.00 Found writing difficult and maybe should have switched to TV which he found easy
11.00 Falling out with the new news editor - it was time for him to go
12.00 Doesn't like all the celebrity coverage today, but feels the heart of the Guardian is still there


Disc 4:
Track 1
00.37 First Gulf War
04.40 Cod War with Iceland and how he covered it and then travelled home on a trawler

Track 2
00.01 Returned to Iceland when there was a chance a communist government would be elected
05.44 Role of submarines, the vehicle for the nuclear deterrent

10.42 At the end of his time there were a series of incident of subs catching trawlers
10.42 Describes travelling in a sub and the dislocation of sound and placement
14.36 Finishes with discussion of Trident, the extreme ultimate force of the Navy
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsAccess to recording via GNM Digital Repository
FormatElectronic record
CD recording
Printed document
Minidisc recording
CopyrightGuardian News & Media Ltd and David Fairhall

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