James Cameron (journalist)

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Mark James Walter Cameron (17 June 1911 – 26 January 1985) was a prominent British journalist, in whose memory the annual James Cameron Memorial Lecture is given.

Early life[edit]

Cameron was born in Battersea, London, of Scottish parentage; his father, William Ernest Cameron, was a barrister who wrote novels under the pseudonym Mark Allerton. His mother was Margaret Douglas (Robertson) Cameron.

Career[edit]

Cameron began as an office dogsbody with the Weekly News in 1935. Having worked for several Scottish newspapers and for the Daily Express in Fleet Street, he was rejected for military service in World War II. After the war, his experience of reporting on the Bikini Atoll nuclear experiments turned him into a pacifist and a founding member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. He continued to work for the Express until 1950, after which he briefly joined Picture Post, where he and photographer Bert Hardy covered the Korean War, winning the Missouri Pictures of the Year Award for "Inchon". Tom Hopkinson, the editor of Picture Post, lost his job as publisher when he defended the magazine's coverage of atrocities committed by South Korean troops at a concentration camp in Pusan. Cameron wrote, "I had seen Belsen, but this was worse. This terrible mob of men - convicted of nothing, un-tried, South Koreans in South Korea, suspected of being 'unreliable'."[1] The founder of the Hulton press, Edward G. Hulton, decided to "kill" the story.

In 1952 Cameron wrote an obituary essay for The Illustrated London News, "The King Is Dead", about the death of King George VI. Cameron then spent eight years with the News Chronicle. In 1953 he visited Albert Schweitzer in Lambaréne, in French Equatorial Africa (now Gabon) and found flaws in the practices and attitudes of Schweitzer and his staff.[2] This was the subject of The Walrus and the Terrier a BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play by Christopher Ralling, broadcast on 7 April 2008.[3]

In 1965, Cameron wangled his way into North Vietnam for interviews and photos (with photographer Roman Cagnoni) of Ho Chi Minh and other top leaders. His book "Here Is Your Enemy" was published in the United States, and his five-part series on North Vietnam was published in December 1965 in the "New York Times", where it was edited by Pulitzer-winning journalist Anthony Lewis. Britain was not at war in Vietnam, so Cameron was not committing treason by doing what he did there.

Cameron also did illustration work, especially in his early career. Working in Scotland for D. C. Thomson, he prepared drawings for sensationalist items in Thomson's publications. He rebelled when asked to draw a picture of a murdered young girl, embellishing it with excess blood and grisly detail. Called to Thomson's office, he was rebuked merely for exposing her underwear.

He was married three times, to Elma, Elizabeth and Moni; and had three children, Desmond, Elma and Fergus. Cameron's first wife, Elma, died in childbirth near the start of World War II.

Cameron wrote two volumes of autobiography: Point of Departure, a chronicle of his life, and An Indian Summer, about his relationship with India; his marriage to Moni, an Indian; and his serious car accident and near death in Calcutta.

Upon the introduction of television in Britain, Cameron became a broadcaster, presenting BBC series including Cameron Country, and numerous single documentaries. An unusual example was "Edgar Wallace: The Man Who Made His Name", a television biography of the popular journalist and thriller writer. He also wrote a radio play, The Pump (1973), based on his experience of open heart surgery, which won a Prix Italia award in 1973.[4] In his last years, he wrote a column for The Guardian.

James Cameron died on 26 January 1985. He was 73.

Among his literary relatives are the Gighan poet the Rev Kenneth Macleod - of "The Road to the Isles" fame - and the writer the Rev Dr John Urquhart Cameron of St Andrews.

Influence[edit]

Noted Anglo-American intellectual Christopher Hitchens was first inspired to become a journalist by Cameron's example.[5]

Books by Cameron[edit]

  • Touch of the Sun (1950)
  • Mandarin Red (1955)
  • 1914: A Portrait of the Year (1959)
  • The African Revolution (1961)
  • 1916: Year of Decision (1962)
  • Men of Our Time (1963)
  • Witness in Vietnam (1966)
  • Point of Departure (1967) ISBN 0-85362-175-6
  • What a Way to Run the Tribe (selected journalism) (1968)
  • An Indian Summer (1974) ISBN 0-14-009569-1
  • The Making of Israel (1976)
  • Wish You Were Here: The English at Play. London: Gordon Fraser, 1976. ISBN 0-900406-70-4. Introduction and commentary by Cameron, photographs by Patrick Ward).
  • Yesterday's Witness (1979)
  • The Best of Cameron (1981)

James Cameron Memorial Trust Award[edit]

There is an annual James Cameron Award Ceremony in London.

Previous winners include:[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jon Halliday and Bruce Cumings. "Selections from Korea: The Unknown War". msu web. Retrieved October 16, 2014. 
  2. ^ James Cameron Point of Departure, 1966 [1978], Law Book Co of Australasia, p154-74. The bulk of this passage is online here.
  3. ^ The Walrus and the Terrier - programme outline
  4. ^ Prix Italia, Winners 1949 - 2010, RAI
  5. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/books/2002/apr/14/politics
  6. ^ "James Cameron Memorial Lecture and Award - Award winners". City University London. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  7. ^ The Guardian, 23 June 2007, Abdul Ahad wins Cameron award

External links[edit]