Malcolm Ross: from the peaks to the trenches
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In April 1915 a journalist named Malcolm Ross was appointed New Zealand’s official war correspondent to cover the actions of the country’s troops wherever they might be fighting during World War I. Few today appear to have heard of this man so the task of this research was to discover who he was, why he was chosen and how effective he was as a correspondent. The fact he had not been remembered hinted at two possibilities; the first was that as little attention has been given to New Zealand’s media history so he had become one of the forgotten and just awaited some eager historian to rediscover him or, secondly, he had been forgotten because he had not left a lasting legacy or tradition worthy of remembrance. It was a conundrum waiting to be solved and that was the purpose of the research. What was uncovered was a man, born of Scottish working class parents who by 52, when he was selected as official war correspondent, had reached what appeared to be the pinnacle of his career. He was successful, both financially and socially. He had been an exceptional mountaineer and sportsman. His journalism and photographic skills had made him one of the leading journalists of his day. Few were surprised when he was appointed as the country’s first official war correspondent. It is the contention of this thesis that from the time of his appointment, Ross’s reputation and status eroded to the extent that his final years after the war appeared to have been spent in relative obscurity. The reason for this will be explored and largely hinges on the almost overwhelming criticism Ross received for his efforts as war correspondent. A major part of the research was devoted to determining whether this criticism was fair and whether Ross warranted elevation into the ranks of the undeserved forgotten of our country’s media heroes.