The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Jeremy Vine says there’s another side to every story
- Jeremy Vine, 55, who lives in West London, hosts a daily Radio 2 show
- He explained how a 1999 report in Johannesburg changed how he tells stories
- The journalist said he now attempts to present several sides to an argument
Journalist and broadcaster Jeremy hosts a daily Radio 2 show and Channel 5 current affairs programme. He’s also presented BBC quiz Eggheads and Newsnight. The 55-year-old lives in West London with his TV journalist wife Rachel Schofield and their teenage daughters Martha and Anna.
One incident, more than any other, taught me how vital it is to try to see things from different points of view.
In 1999, I was Africa correspondent for the BBC and produced a report on police brutality in Johannesburg, based on footage a colleague had recorded. Officers dragged some lads from a stolen car, set their dogs on them and stubbed cigarettes out on their heads.
Jeremy Vine, 55, (pictured) who lives in West London, explained how he learned the importance of presenting several sides to an argument
There was a huge reaction, with even Nelson Mandela making a statement to condemn the police’s actions. Then this guy called Jean Schmidt rang me and told me it was his car that had been stolen by the young men, and they’d put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger twice — though it hadn’t fired.
It troubled me that, though our report wasn’t wrong, it was only telling half the story. That’s influenced me, as a journalist and human being, ever since.
So I attempt to present several sides to an argument on my Radio 2 and Channel 5 shows. On many issues, such as whether the lyrics of Land Of Hope And Glory are offensive, there’s no right or wrong; they’re offensive to some people and not to others.
In my personal life, the South African incident taught me to avoid getting cross with people. Recently, for instance, we had a serious water leak in our house because a plumber hadn’t installed some pipes properly. Instead of getting angry with him, I realised he’d probably installed 70 pipe junctions that day and made just one mistake.
It informs my parenting, too. I’m able to take my daughters’ point of view on things, such as staying in bed until 11am when they need sleep to grow, rather than having a go at them. There’s a lot of division in society. Reaching out to other people and understanding them is perhaps more important than ever.
Jeremy’s new novel The Diver And The Lover is out now (£20, Coronet).