Quest comes clean
So how do you interview the world’s top interviewer? Pretty easy, rea l l y. CNN anchor, reporter, on-air host and bestknown face Richard Quest has such a breadth of experience and personal knowledge that no subject seems beyond his ability to pass judgment. Press a button and away he goes, talk i ng with authority and fairness on just about anything.
Questy, as he was known to his school friends, is uniquely placed to see the big picture. He insists he is “just the same as any bog-standard journalist but I can quickly assemble and assimilate a large number of facts”. ON PARACHUTE JOURNALISM: (news f iremen who f ly in, spread mayhem with superficial, often dishonest reporting, t hen f l y out): Criticism i gnores t he point. Just as a doctor becomes a specialist or a pilot learns to f ly, journalists learn the skill of analysing and reporting what is happening and why it’s significant. TV is not there to dot the Is and cross the Ts as written journalism will do, but to give you a better feel for the story. But there’s no excuse for the headline- seeking excesses of tabloid journalism.
ON NEWSPAPERS: There’s a revolution going on. We have to embrace it. On TV we have done it very well, but none of us has managed to unlock the full potential. We are in transition.
ON FOUNTAIN PENS: I was given a fountain pen to sign the Iceland presidential visitor’s book. Absolute horror. Then I began to think, this is rather cool. It becomes a process, like playing with a pipe. It moulds to your writing style.
ON WHY HE MOVED FROM BBC
TO CNN: I didn’t do it for the money. It was just time to make a change. If you are going to leave one of the great names in journalism you have to go somewhere as good. They are both powerful media brands, huge bureaucracies with more similarities than differences. They didn’t head hunt me. I responded to a job advertisement.
ON AL JAZEERA: (whose 2006 job offer he rejected because “being gay and Jewish might not be suitable”): It has to take an independent stance, but also ref lect an Arab perspective on world news. That’s how news networks operate. That doesn’t mean they are biased. They are about to launch Al Jazeera America. If it doesn’t conform to norms and standards of modern journalism it won’t have an audience. They will adapt their culture to run in an American context. Is it propaganda? A network funded by the Qatar government? BBC was originally funded
by the British government.
ON SOUTH AFRICA: The world’s perception is still very much based on the rainbow nation, enhanced by phenomenal successes like the World Cup. But other events start hitting home. Drip, drip, drip, you get Marikana, Oscar Pistorius, the disembowelled rape victim, attracting worldwide attention.
Negative stories start to take their toll, shining a light on crime and prompting a reassessment. Everyone has corruption. It’s how you handle it. The perception here is that you can get away with most things i f you pay enough. Gupta is not about whether somebody landed a plane, but about the morals that allowed it to take place. Education and integrity will define SA’s future in the next 20 years. You can recapture the rainbow nation.
GLOBAL ECONOMY: We are in a process of experimentation and transformation, changing the engine while the plane is f lying. It’s 1929 all over again. But they did not f lood the market with money, as we did in 2008/09. The rot was in the roof or walls then. Now it’s in the foundations.
ON THE USA: Western civilisation is not declining. America has a vibrant, open economy, able to adapt and change very fast and to accommodate recession. It’s deregulated, but with tough labour laws. Whether it’s shale oil or 3D printing, America’s entrepreneurial spirit ensures reinventing itself.
CHINA: It is not playing the capitalist game by the capitalist rules. China is playing with market economies. They want American technology and know-how and then they want us out of there.