Roy Greenslade (born 31 December 1946) is a British author and freelance journalist, and a former professor of journalism. He worked in the UK newspaper industry from the 1960s onwards. As a media commentator, he wrote a daily blog from 2006 to 2018 for The Guardian and a column for London's Evening Standard from 2006 to 2016. Under a pseudonym, Greenslade also wrote for the Sinn Féin newspaper An Phoblacht during the late 1980s whilst also working on Fleet Street. In 2021, it was reported in The Times newspaper, citing an article by Greenslade in the British Journalism Review, that he supported the bombing campaign of the Provisional IRA. Following this revelation, Greenslade resigned as Honorary Visiting Professor at City, University of London.
|Born||31 December 1946|
|Other names||George King|
|Relatives||Natascha McElhone (stepdaughter)|
Early life and career edit
Greenslade's father was an insurance clerk, and his mother was a book-keeper. The family lived initially with his mother's parents in Dulwich before moving to a council house in South Ockendon. They later bought a bungalow in Leigh-on-Sea, and he travelled 32 miles each day to a grammar school in Dagenham, the Dagenham County High School, from 1957 to 1963. He has a younger brother.
Greenslade started work at the Barking and Dagenham Advertiser aged 17, and also delivered the newspaper to newsagents to supplement his low wages. After three years he joined the Lancashire Evening Telegraph in Blackburn as a sub-editor, before spending 18 months as a sub-editor at the Manchester office of the Daily Mail. Greenslade was an early member of the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist–Leninist).
The Sun, Daily Mirror and elsewhere (1969 to 1991) edit
In 1969, Greenslade entered Fleet Street as a news sub-editor on The Sun, which had just been acquired by Rupert Murdoch. He had a brief spell with the Daily Mirror in 1972 before returning to The Sun as deputy chief sub-editor, first with the news desk and later in the features department.
Greenslade left The Sun in 1974 to write his first book and to take a degree in politics at the University of Sussex. He worked his way through university with part-time sub-editing jobs at the Brighton Argus, BBC Radio Brighton, the Sunday Mirror and Reveille. After graduating in 1979, he joined the Daily Star in Manchester for six months until being seconded to the Daily Express in London. He was soon appointed features editor of the Daily Star.
In 1981, he returned to The Sun as assistant editor. He was involved in the move from Fleet Street to Wapping. Five years later, he transferred to The Sunday Times, first running the Review Section before becoming managing editor (news). In 1990, he was appointed editor of the Daily Mirror by Robert Maxwell.
While editor of the Daily Mirror, Greenslade rigged a spot-the-ball competition in the paper to make sure it was un-winnable on instructions from his proprietor, Robert Maxwell. He admitted his behaviour in his 1992 biography of Maxwell (see below), which he repeated in October 2011 during a seminar at the Leveson Inquiry, saying: ″Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.″
The Guardian and other outlets (1992 to 2016) edit
From 1992 until 2005, Greenslade was media commentator for The Guardian. He spent three months with The Daily Telegraph in a similar capacity before returning to The Guardian to launch a daily media blog, which ended in 2018. He also wrote a weekly media column for the Evening Standard. His column for the Standard lasted for ten years until April 2016. In the context of a changing industry, Greenslade concluded his last column for the Standard with the observation: "Whatever happens, this I know: journalism, the trade I have practised for more than 50 years, must survive. Without it, democracy itself is imperilled".
Other work edit
Greenslade is on the board of an academic quarterly, the British Journalism Review, and was a trustee of the media ethics charity, MediaWise. In 2003, he was appointed Professor of Journalism at City University, London, in succession to Hugh Stephenson. He stepped down in 2018, becoming an Honorary Visiting Professor until 2021.
Greenslade is also the author of four books: Goodbye to the Working Class (1976), Maxwell's Fall (1992), Press Gang: How Newspapers Make Profits from Propaganda (2003) and The Peer, the Priests and the Press: A Story of the Demise of Irish Landlordism (2023).
His other published work includes:
"Subterfuge, set-ups, stings and stunts: how red-tops go about their investigations" in Investigative Journalism, ed. Hugo de Burgh (Routledge,2000)
"Does dumbing up mean duller?" in Communication Ethics Today, ed. Richard Keeble (Troubador, 2005)
"Commuting: Belles, Buffers and Bores", in The Brighton Book, ed. Melissa Benn (Myriad, 2005)
"Seeking Scapegoats: The coverage of asylum in the UK press", Asylum and Migration Working Paper 5, Institute for Public Policy Research, 2005
"Myth-representation: how drugs give journalists the perfect chance to stereotype, vilify and sensationalise", Drug Link magazine, 2006
"Fleet Street’s graveyard of truth" in Hunger Strike: Reflections on the 1981 hunger strike, ed. Danny Morrison (Brandon/Mount Eagle, 2006)
"The catalyst that may turn the 26 into 32" in Brexit and Northern Ireland: Bordering on the Confusion, eds. John Mair, Steven McCabe, Neil Fowler & Leslie Budd (Bite-sized Books, 2019)
Foreword to Media Guidelines for Reporting Suicide (Samaritans, 2020)
"How the United Kingdom’s tabloids go about it" in Investigative Journalism, third edition, eds. Hugo de Burgh and Paul Lashmar (Routledge, 2021)
Irish republicanism edit
During the late 1980s, when he was managing news editor of The Sunday Times, Greenslade secretly wrote for An Phoblacht, a newspaper published by Sinn Féin. His pseudonym was George King. Greenslade wrote in a 2021 British Journalism Review article that it was revealed by Nick Davies, a Guardian colleague, with his consent. When Greenslade reviewed Davies's book on his blog in 2008, he did not deny his contributions to An Phoblacht. On the 30th anniversary of the H Block prison hunger strikes, Greenslade gave a speech at a Sinn Féin conference in London and An Phoblacht published his article on the subject.
Greenslade has had a house in County Donegal for many years, and a close personal friend is Pat Doherty, who from 1988 until 2009 was vice president of Sinn Féin, and who has been publicly named as a former member of the IRA Army Council. He also stood surety in 2013 for IRA member John Downey, one of the suspects in the 1982 bombing of Hyde Park which killed four soldiers. As part of the terms of the Good Friday agreement he was not required to stand trial, Greenslade wrote.
The Spectator magazine in February 2000 published an article by Stephen Glover which alleged Greenslade was part of a "Republican cell" at The Guardian and that "there is no doubting his Republican sympathies." Then editor Alan Rusbridger denied Glover's claims of the paper having a "Republican cell" at the time and decades later when Greenslade's views became clear. His undeclared allegiances were sufficiently well known for Private Eye over many years to use the nickname "Roy of the Provos" when mentioning the journalist.
In the British Journalism Review article, Greenslade stated he had secretly and explicitly supported the IRA's bombing campaign since the early 1970s. His reasoning for keeping his convictions secret, including refusing to disclose them to his commissioning editors when he wrote articles about Irish republicanism or Sinn Féin, was that he needed "to pay his mortgage". Following these disclosures in 2021, he resigned from his post as Honorary Visiting Professor at City, University of London.
Greenslade has received particular criticism for an article he wrote in 2014 for The Guardian criticising a "lack of political balance" in a BBC TV programme which examined rape allegations made by Máiría Cahill against a senior member of the Provisional IRA from Rusbridger, who called his conduct "at best, hypocritical", and by James Bloodworth, in a Sunday Times article, who described him as an "IRA apologist" and the IRA's "useful idiot". The online version of the Cahill article now acknowledges the complaint with comments from the Readers' Editor indicating "the writer’s political position should have been indicated openly." Greenslade has been criticised by Rusbridger, his former editor at The Guardian, for his behaviour over this article and lack of transparency over his belief in the IRA's armed struggle. Rusbridger, Greenslade and The Guardian have since apologised to Cahill for the article.
Personal life edit
- "British journalist Roy Greenslade stands surety for IRA man". The Irish Post. 7 March 2014.
- Greenslade, Roy (6 April 2016). "Roy Greenslade: Decade of change but journalism must survive". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
- "Former Fleet Street editor reveals his support for IRA terror campaign". www.newsletter.co.uk.
- Allen-Mills, Tony (27 February 2021). "Fleet Street editor Roy Greenslade reveals his secret support for the IRA and refuses to apologise". The Times. London. Retrieved 28 February 2021. (subscription required)
- Hardy, Jack; Mendick, Robert (1 March 2021). "Boris Johnson 'condemns' former Fleet Street editor for piece revealing IRA support". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
- "Greenslade, Roy (1 of 9). Oral History of the British Press". British Library. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
- Greenslade, Roy (12 May 2019). "Retreat from print could be a disaster for local democracy". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 10 May 2023.
- "High Tide: Reg's Working Class Party" (PDF). www.marxists.org.
- Brown, David; Leroux, Marcus (2 March 2021). "Former editor Roy Greenslade quits ethics post following backlash for supporting IRA". The Times. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
- "Axegrinder at Leveson: Phil Hall 'Does a Lebedev' on Roy Greenslade". Press Gazette. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
- "Maxwell: The Rise and Fall of Robert Maxwell and His Empire". Publishers Weekly. 28 September 1992. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
- Morris, Sophie (6 October 2011). "Inside Story: The ex-editors' files". The Independent. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
- Ponsford, Dominic (7 April 2016). "Evening Standard drops Roy Greenslade media column as press retreats from scrutinising itself". Press Gazette. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
- Byrne, Ciar (31 March 2003). "Greenslade takes professorship at City University". The Guardian.
- "Sian murder says a lot about media's values". London Evening Standard. 30 March 2011.
- Owen Jones (21 April 2013). "Owen Jones: Our shameful hierarchy - some deaths matter more than others - Comment - Voices". The Independent. London. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- National Life Stories, 'Greenslade, Roy (1 of 9) National Life Stories Collection: 'Oral History of the British Press', The British Library Board, 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
- Greenslade, Roy (3 November 2014). "Demonisation of Gerry Adams a consequence of Ireland's 'media bubble'". The Guardian.
- Greenslade, Roy (March 2021). "I cheered on the IRA from Fleet Street — you just didn't read all about it". British Journalism Review. Vol. 32, no. 1. Retrieved 28 February 2021 – via The Sunday Times. (subscription required)
- Glover, Stephen (12 March 2012). "The Troubles are still raging for The Guardian's media pundit". The Independent. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
- Glover, Stephen (12 March 2012). "The Troubles are still raging for The Guardian's media pundit". The Independent. London. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
- Dudley Edwards, Ruth (18 March 2012). "The strange case of the two Roy Greenslades". Irish Independent.
- Murphy, Cormac (28 February 2014). "'Guardian' journalist stood surety for suspect". Irish Independent.
- Glover, Stephen (19 February 2000). "Media Studies". The Spectator. Retrieved 8 March 2021. (subscription required)
- Rusbridger, Alan (7 March 2021). "Roy Greenslade's support for the IRA and the difficult questions it raises". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 March 2021. See also "Going fishing". The Guardian. 25 February 2000. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
- Dudley Edwards, Ruth (2 March 2021). "Idiots as useful as the IRA apologist Roy Greenslade are in short supply". Newsletter. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
- Greenslade, Roy (17 March 2007). "BBC programme on IRA rape allegations flawed by lack of political balance". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
- Bloodworth, James (7 March 2021). "Roy Greenslade: IRA apologist and just another useful idiot". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 7 March 2021. (subscription required)
- Ponsford, Dominic (5 March 2021). "Roy Greenslade and IRA: Northern Ireland coverage scrutinised as Guardian apologises". Press Gazette. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
- "Comedy role for X-Files star Duchovny". The Guardian. 17 March 2007.