Paul Lashmar (Twitter, Website) joins Andrew (Twitter; LinkedIn) to discuss investigative journalism and intelligence. He is a former UK Reporter of the Year.
What You’ll Learn
The similarities and differences between spooks and journalists
The role Watergate played for his generation of journalists
Intelligence overseers as “Ostriches,” “Cheerleaders,” “Lemon-suckers,” or “Guardians”
Bellingcat, Spycatcher and the “Zinoviev Letter”
The long shadow of the Second World War
Investigative journalism in democratic societies
And much, much more…
“Cardiac stimulating experiences,” is how this week’s guest describes meeting sources in smoky IRA pubs in Belfast all on his lonesome. But he also met sources in the oak-paneled clubs of Whitehall and in many other places around the world. So, what has our guest distilled from his long career examining intelligence agencies? What are the types of relationships spooks and journalists have had with one another? What are the similarities and differences between both tribes?
To answer these questions and more, Andrew sat down with investigative reporter and current Head of the Dept. of Journalism at City, University of London, Paul Lashmar. Paul has worked across the media landscape, as a producer for the BBC, as a broadcast journalist with British current affairs television program World in Action, and as an investigative journalist for the Observer newspaper. He won Reporter of the Year in the 1986 UK Press Awards. He is the author of Spy Flights of the Cold War, Britain’s Secret Propaganda War, and most recently Spies, Spin and the Fourth Estate.
World in Action was a legendary investigative TV program in the U.K. It’s programming led to the resignation of a Home Secretary, one of the Great Offices of State in the UK; the release of the Birmingham Six, who were wrongfully convicted of planting IRA bombs; and the exposure of Combat-18, a violent neo-Nazi movement. It would also publish the original story of the Spycatcher allegations that the head of MI5 was a Soviet mole and that there had been a joint MI5-MI6 plot to overthrow Labor Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Paul co-wrote that 1984 episode. For all these reasons and more, it was rarely out of the courts. The last series was broadcast in 1998.
Quote of the Week
"They would meet you in an up-market club in the center of London…it's leather Chesterfields, gentleman walking around getting your gin and tonic. It was all of that, in those days it was all informal…there are now in most newspapers, somebody who is usually appointed by the editor who maintains those connections… it's a sensible arrangement." – Paul Lashmar
Spies, Spin and the Fourth Estate, P. Lashmar (EUP, 2021)
The Women of NatSec Journalism – 6 Leading Journalists (2017)
Covering Intelligence (2015)
Part 1: with Mark Mazzetti
Part 2 – with Ali Watkins
Part 3 – with Greg Miller
Zinoviev Letter, G. Bennett (OUP, 2020)
Spies and the Media in Britain, R. Norton-Taylor (IBT, 2018)
Spinning Intelligence, R. Dover and M. Goodman (CUP, 2009)
Spycatcher, P. Wright (Viking, 1987)
UK Officials Still Blocking SpyCatcher Files, Guardian (2021)
The Zinoviev Letter, FT (2018)
When Spy Agencies Didn’t Exist, BBC (2014)
Why Good Investigative Journalism Matters (2022)
Obituary: Peter Wright, Independent (1995)
“World in Action,” YouTube (n.d.)
The Spy Who Never Was [World In Action] (1984)
Moscow Orders to Our Reds [Daily Mail Accusation] (1924)
Zinoviev Denies Writing Letter (1924)
Zinoviev Narrative of Facts [TUC & Labour Party] (1924)
How Bellingcat is Using TikTok to Investigate the War in Ukraine
Investigative journalism, Bellingcat style!