February 20, 2016
Extract from Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
Many of Corker’s anecdotes dealt with the fabulous Wenlock Jakes. “…syndicated all over America. Gets a thousand dollars a week. When he turns up in a place you can bet your life that as long as he’s there it’ll be the news centre of the world.
…”Why, once Jakes went out to cover a revolution in one of the Balkan capitals. He overslept in his carriage, woke up at the wrong station, didn’t know any different, got out, went straight to a hotel, and cabled off a thousand-word story about barricades in the streets, flaming churches, machine guns answering the rattle of his typewriter as he wrote, a dead child, like a broken doll, spreadeagled in the deserted roadway below his window – you know.””
“Well they were pretty surprised at his office, getting a story like that from the wrong country, but they trusted Jakes and splashed it in six national newspapers. That day every special in Europe got orders to rush to the new revolution. They arrived in shoals. Everything seemed quiet enough, but it was as much as their jobs were worth to say so, with Jakes filing a thousand words of blood and thunder a day. So they chimed in too. Government stocks dropped, financial panic, state of emergency declared, army mobilized, famine, mutiny –and in less than a week there was an honest to God revolution under way, just as Jakes had said. There’s the power of the press for you.”
“They gave Jakes the Nobel Peace Prize for his harrowing descriptions of carnage – but that was colour stuff.”