One week ago today a superhero of the Left died at the age of 84. John Pilger had a good claim to being the most influential journalist of his generation.
Although there have been obituaries in the Press, some favourable and others hostile, Pilger’s passing has stirred surprisingly little interest in the broadcast media.
And yet for years he was a television star, attracting millions of viewers to his trenchant documentaries, many of which were shown on ITV at peak-time. There will be few over the age of 50 who can’t remember the good-looking, charismatic reporter laying down the law in foreign climes.
His 1979 film Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia was watched by 150 million people in 50 countries, and won more than 30 international awards. Pilger was among the first journalists to report the horrors of the ‘Killing Fields’ under the Khmer Rouge, and his documentary provoked a massive humanitarian response.
He was also a Promethean writer and, from the mid-1960s until the mid-1980s, a star foreign correspondent for the Daily Mirror at a time when the Left-of-centre red-top was selling several million copies every day.