Obituary: Roger Lazar

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The Independent Online
ROGER LAZAR was too self-effacing a character ever to project himself into the upper reaches of BBC News, writes Charles Wheeler [further to the obituary by Leonard Miall, 17 February]. The contributors to From Our Own Correspondent over the 13 years he ran it will remember him as one of the most successful programme editors of his generation - on a par with men like Laurence Gilliam and Andrew Boyle.

None of us ever said no to a request for a piece from Lazar. Partly that was because we liked him so much; no team of foreign correspondents can have worked for a more considerate editor. But it was also because he stretched us, bringing our reporting up to standards some of us had never reached. FOOC, as we called it, was our most demanding outlet and it raised our self-respect.

The late Rene Cutforth, who resigned from BBC News after covering the war in Korea, used to complain that he'd walked into an editorial straitjacket. "The bastards won't allow you to say it's raining unless you quote an official source," he once warned me. And so it was until the middle 1950s, when Hugh Carleton Greene sacked Tahu Hole, the fearsome Editor, News, and found a place in the schedules in which foreign correspondents could breathe, think aloud and dare to interpret the news. Forty-three years later From Our Own Correspondent is still running, a small but evidently durable monument to its architect, Roger Lazar.