If you have ever been to the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents Club, you might have seen the Grande Dame of journalism, Clare Hollingworth, holding court in the library. The library has a special place in journalism, not that there are many books there. If you managed to get your self killed on assignment in the Viet Nam war, you got to have you photo on the wall there. Clare was on assignment long before that. She covered the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. She’s now 104!
I first met Clare much, much later, back in 1993 when I created a proto blog, Dateline Hong Kong, which experimented with the novel idea of websites to record the views of the correspondents covering the Hong Kong handover. There had been concern that Beijing’s takeover of the British colony might not go as smoothly as hoped. Placing the interviews on the web. allowed it to be safely placed on a US based server. It also allowed the material to be progressively used by journalism educators; years before it was all published in book form.
Even then, Clare was regarded as one of the greats. She was also as tough as old iron. I first saw her in the Foreign Correspondents Club newsroom where I wrote much of my journalism PhD. She was on the phone to a distant sub-editor, foolish enough to deny her immediate access to the editor. His ears must have been scorched. I trembled in the background. The editor was on the line forthwith.
I had the scary thought, ” I have to interview this woman”. I recorded the exchange on my trusty cassette player and transcribed her words.
The server that carried the website has long been shut down. But much of the material was archived. Clare’s interview can be found at http://web.archive.org/web/20011117095413/http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/2365/claire.html