A colleague asked me what books I would recommend for journalism to newbies and MAs in this new year. Here’s a couple.
- “White working Class” by Joan C. Williams. Williams is an eminent Professor of Law at the University of California. Her 131 page thesis/book on overcoming “Class cluelessness in America” is every bit about what’s become visibly wrong with modern day journalism. Do you understand people enough to report on them?
- “The News” by Alain De Botton. Botton, a philosopher pokes holes in this form of communication’s contradictions, but also how growing up in school we pay scant attention to understanding it, compared to say literature e.g. Shakespeare.
- “How emotions are made” by Lisa Feldman Barrett. Barret’s convincing tome opens up a world rarely discussed in journalism, emotions. But more revelatory is that emotions are learned. Hence, storytelling yields different affects on people and cultures. Combined with Drew Westen’s book “The Political Brain” (pg. 45–115), you get an idea about how words and images create emotions that journalism’s sibling and often its nemesis e.g. PR and politics exploits to its full.
- Creating Freedom by Raoul Martinez pg 176–210. Lest we thought journalism/ the media is about the art of writing to educate or inform, Martinez provides a succinct account detailed in Power and Responsibility by James Curran ad Jean Seatton, that it’s about power — hence those tenants of journalism e.g. impartiality, balance may not matter a jot.`
- “The Documentary Handbook” by Senior Lecturer and former BBC doc maker Peter Lee-Wright captures various forms of video production including this author’s style of video journalism being presented to Apple when Lee-Wright recorded notes for his book. For more on videojournalism and Cinema Journalism, this author would recommend his Medium post @viewmagazine — voted one of the top journalism writers; www.videojournalism.co.uk and www.viewmagazine.tv As a cinema journalist, I recommend books like “The Cinema of Tarkovsky” by Nariman Skakov and “The Story of Film” by Mark Cousins.
- “News Writing” by Anna McKane. A nuts and bolts and belts and braces book about writing news for the beginner. Otherwise the broader storytelling from Stephen King “On Writing: a memoir of the craft” is a pleasurable read about King’s ascent into superstardom storytelling with advice.
- “We the Media” by Dan Gilmor. Gilmor saw it coming when others didn’t, the rise of a deregulated, deconstructed journalism by you the citizen. A book you must read to gain a perspective, which was followed by several other exemplars e.g. Clay Shirky, Alf Hermida. Who’s going to be the next Gilmor?
- “Steal like an Artist” by Austin Kleon. Not a word used in journalism but we all mimic someone until we find our own voice. Kleon’s sage words give you a creative platform to experiment.
- Non Violent communications by Marshall B Rosenberg PhD.
- Digital Storytelling by Carolyn Handler Miller — an old favourite still enriching.
This is by no means a definitive list, but one that comes to mind. I’ll be adding to it…