Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Journalism Tips 45. A few #journalism books to try out.

A little break from the finding people posts as in here and here and here. This is an occasional series of books and films the trainee reporter or journalism student may want to try out. No, they are not serious Murdoch-bashing, tabloid-trashing tomes. They are just general reads for the interested and curious reader.
If you want a journalismtip out of this it is... start thinking now about those Christmas stories especially for local newspapers. It comes around pretty quickly and the news editor will be on your case sooner than you think. Make sure the stories will hold... and make sure you can keep your gob shut the next time they scream for a page 43 nib, you could find your Yuletide splash being used as a filler.

1. Waterhouse On Newspaper Style by Keith Waterhouse
Simply brilliant. A classic. Every junior reporter - and indeed quite a few seniors - should have a copy. It was originally written as the style guide for the Daily Mirror (or as he would put it the Daily Mirror style guide) some time in the 1980s.
It's said that copies were photocopied and passed around from journalist to journalist. One day a reporter bumped into Waterhouse and asked him to sign his copy. Realising it was such a popular book he decided to publish it.
The book covers everything you could possibly need to know about writing by a master of his craft.
Revel Barker Publishing. Priced £9.99.

2. Stick It Up Your Punter: The Uncut Story of the Sun Newspaper by Peter Chippendale and Chris Horrie
Entertaining, funny and (for some) shocking all at the same time. Told in a lively way it delves into how the culture at News International developed over time. How investment in its brand of journalism and a swiftness to react made The Sun the country's best-selling tabloid and smashed its once superior rival dominance of the red top market. It may also give you a different perspective on the Wapping industrial dispute. The authors also wrote the equally excellent Disaster: Rise and Fall of News on Sunday - Anatomy of a Business Failure now out of print.
Pocket Books. Priced £7.99.

3. Tickle the Public. One Hundred Years of the Popular Press by Matthew Engel
Very interesting romp through the history of newspapers during the 20th Century. See how British newspaper habits moved from The Times to the Daily Star in a space of a few decades.
And if you think it is no longer applicable, then think again. The title comes from the rhyme popular in Fleet Street in the 19th Century: Tickle the public, make 'em grin, the more you tickle, the more you'll win. Teach the public, you'll never get rich, you live like a beggar, and die in a ditch. (In other words the perfect advice for new web start-ups.)
Now out of print but available on Amazon. Priced £00.01 to £98.27 + p&p.

4. My Trade: A Short History of British Journalism by Andrew Marr
You can't help but feel the Leveson Inquiry could have saved itself a few  weeks of questions if all the lawyers had bought themselves a copy of this enjoyable guide to modern reporting by the BBC's top - and very self-deprecating - interviewer. In a few pages the former editor of the Independent explains why by-lines are so important to reporters, how contacts work, the day to day of newspaper production - and, in particular, his own specialism the lobby - before moving on to how television reporting differs to print. Plus, as the title suggests, there is a wider view on how British newspapers have developed down the years.
Pan MacMillan. Priced £8.99.

5. Shock! Horror! The Tabloids In Action by Sally J. Taylor
It is easy - as well as being very lazy - to think that tabloids just make up all those sensational stories. That is not to say it has never happened but much of it is just down to hard work, dogged determination and (in the old days) very large cheque books being whipped out at just the right time. S.J. Taylor tells some of the stories behind the headlines (to use a cliche).
Now admittedly it has been a few years since I last read this excellent book but S J Taylor has written extensively on newspaper history since then. Particularly about the Daily Mail, An Unlikely Hero: A Newspaper Reborn - Vere Rothermere And How The Daily Mail Was Saved.
Out of print but available on Amazon. Priced £00.01 to £17.00.

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