It was a sad day recently with the announcement of the death of journalist John Pilger at 84.

John really epitomised what journalism should be all about, speaking truth to power and holding the powerful to account.

John first rose to fame for his international reporting on the Vietnam War, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Burma, East Timor, Australia and the Middle East. 

He, together with filmmaker David Munro, broke the news of the devastation in Cambodia, caused by four years of tyrannous rule by Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge.

In America, John was accompanying Robert Kennedy on his presidential campaign in 1968, when the senator was shot in the Ambassador hotel.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Paul Donovan was inspired by journalist John PilgerPaul Donovan was inspired by journalist John Pilger

Reporting for the Daily Mirror on June 5, 1968, John wrote: "He's the next President Kennedy! said a woman standing next to me. She then fell to the floor, with a bullet wound to the head (she lived)."

John also did much to bring to light, the inhuman treatment of indigenous people in Australia.

Born in  Bondi,  New South Wales, John came to Britain in 1962.

He worked for the Daily Mirror newspaper (1962 to 1986) and made documentary films, mainly for ITV. He was later a columnist for the Guardian and New Statesman. He also wrote many books.

John remained a stern critic of the mainstream media to the end. He particularly loathed those who used their positions to parrot establishment PR rather than doing the job of bringing the powerful to account.

He warned of fake news long before it became a term.

In later years, John stood by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, as he was persecuted, standing bail and visiting him at the Ecuadorian embassy and prison. Unlike, many media people, Pilger stood by Assange till the end.

On a personal note, John was a great inspiration, friend and support. He was incredibly generous to someone just making their way in journalism. 

I provided research on a number of his films books and articles.

John was respected everywhere for his work in standing up for ordinary people. 

A truly inspirational journalist and human being, he will be sorely missed. A man who remained true to his principles to the end, admired and respected internationally, the body of work he leaves behind will stand the test of time. He was also an inspiration to so many, some of whom he helped along the way.

  • Paul Donovan is Labour councillor for Wanstead Village ward, Redbridge Council and a blogger (