The Best Books for Aspiring Journalists
In a world of ‘fake news’, ‘alternative facts’ and generally more media being consumed than the proceeding decades combined – high-quality journalism is more important than ever. I have had the pleasure of interviewing some really incredible journalists; their dedication to the written word and to exposing the truth is inspiring. In this special reading list of the best books for aspiring journalists; I have put together a team of fantastic journalists; some I’ve previously interviewed, others I’ve admired. I have asked each of them to nominate what they believe to be the best books for aspiring journalists. What follows is a wonderfully eclectic books for aspiring journalists; each offering a different insight or perspective that could help you reach your goal. Please meet our expert panel who will help us discover some of the best books for aspiring journalists.
Matti Friedman is a journalist and author. He won the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize, the American Library Association’s Sophie Brody Medal and the Canadian Jewish Book Award for his first book The Aleppo Codex. Matti’s reporting has taken him all over the globe, stopping in Israel, Lebanon, Moscow and more. His writing has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post and more.
James T. Hamilton is the Hearst Professor of Communication and the Director of the Journalism Program. He earned a BA in Economics and Government and a PhD in Economics from Harvard University. His research in the area of computational journalism explores how the costs of story discovery can be lowered if there is a better use of data and algorithms. James is also a prolific author.
Gary Kebbel served as dean at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He taught journalism for 7 years at Northern Illinois University, where he was named the best teacher in the Department of Journalism. From 1999-2005 he directed the growth of AOL News into one of the largest news sites on the Internet. He is a founding editor of USA TODAY.com and Newsweek.com.
Samuel G. Freedman is an award-winning author, columnist, and professor. A former columnist for The New York Times and a professor at Columbia University, he is the author of eight acclaimed books and is currently at work on his ninth, which will be about Hubert Humphrey, Civil Rights, and the 1948 Democratic convention. Freedman holds a bachelors degree in journalism and history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
You’ve met the panel and now it is time to discover their nominations for the best books for aspiring journalists.
This complete collection (published by Everyman’s) demonstrates what clear prose writing is, how a sharp and colorful mind works, and how a great writer engaged with dramatic times without losing his cool, his manners, or his wry sense of humor. If I’m stuck in my own writing, I open this book and almost always find something inspiring – or a diversion that I justify by telling myself it was something I needed to know anyway.
James T. Hamilton
Imagine writing about class, race, inequality, war, socialism, literature, and politics, with great clarity and humor and insight. Add in autobiographical asides that tell the story of the story, and you have Orwell’s essays.
James T. Hamilton:
What happens to a dream deferred, then partially realized and stymied? This collection of c. 200 articles from 1941-1973 show how reporters covered the evolution of the US civil rights movement in real time with often riveting details as events unfolded.
A Writer at War, by Vasily Grossman, edited by Anthony Beevor. An excellent introduction to one of the best journalists and writers of the 20th century, who spent WWII attached to the Red Army fighting the Germans and experienced the Battle of Stalingrad first-hand. A guide to humane war reporting, and also a book sure to put your own problems – as a writer and as a person – in perspective.
We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda, by Philip Gourevitch. This books shows how a good journalist can take on-the-ground reportage, create a work that grabs the world’s attention and tells people something they need to know, and also make something lasting enough to transcend the immediate context in which it was created.
James T. Hamilton:
I.F. Stone was a document-driven reporter who eschewed press conferences and watering holes for deep dives into statistics and reports. Through his own weekly newsletter, he told stories and truths that were often ignored or elided by other Washington reporters.
Which books would you consider the best books for aspiring journalists? Comment below and let us know!
Image credit (Samuel Freedman): Sara Barrett
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