Mark James Walter Cameron, the man cited by the late Christopher Hitchens as the reason he became a journalist was a remarkable man who was a true giant of correspondents during the golden age of reportage.
Born in 1911, he spent his formative years working for Scottish newspapers and the Daily Express in Fleet Street. Later he became a foreign correspondent and with it a career defining moment witnessing the nuclear tests carried out on Bikini Attoll which prompted him to help in the formation of CND and become a confirmed pacifist.
His career took him across the globe, his reporting of the Korean War resulted in an epic fallout with the owner of the magazine which sent him. The Picture Post refused to print Cameron’s unashamedly honest account of atrocities carried out by the South Koreans on political prisoners under the supportive umbrella of the United Nations and his editor’s dismissal in support of Cameron led to him leaving and cementing his legend amongst fellow journalists and members of the media.
He was the first correspondent to film the Vietnam War from the perspective of the North Vietnamese, he interviewed Ho Chi Minh before going on to travel and write extensively about Africa and his great love, India. Towards the end of the sixties he began making documentaries for the BBC, some of the clips can be seen in the wonderful video below in which he talks of his life as a journalist.
So if your idea of a foreign correspondent is a cigarette smoking, drinking journo in a suit and rain coat sat in foreign bars or walking through the post-war streets of Glasgow whilst doing a piece to camera then this is your man and your video. It is a glorious reminder of the sixties, the BBC of the period and remarkable journalists such as James Cameron. Sit back, take a drink and soak it all up.
A bibliography of James Cameron’s books can be found here