My Reading List for Future Journalists

The Columbia Journalism Review has a reading list for aspiring journalists, recommended by writers, journalists and acdemics. Of the 48 titles, I have read two – On Writing by Stephen King and the second volume of George Orwell’s collected essays. As one of the commentators suggests, this is rather “high falutin” list, with some pretty aspirational choices.

My own suggestions would be:

Scoop by Evelyn Waugh – A mix-up over names sees The Daily Beast’s nature notes contributor sent to cover a war in Africa, where he bumbles his way to a huge scoop. Laughs galore. but a frighteningly accurate portrayal of journalism

Essential English for Journalists, Editors and Writers by Harold Evans – Everything you need to know about writing for newspapers, by one of the masters

What is the What by Dave Eggers – one of the best books I ever read while I was in Africa. Gets under the skin of the place in a way that few journalists can. This is how to tell a story

I’ll be trying to go through the CJR selection. But I can’t help but think it is crammed with books that would go on my shelves but remain unread.

Any other suggestions?


9 thoughts on “My Reading List for Future Journalists

  1. The Shadow of the Sun – Ryszard Kapuscinski. Great insight into Africa and beautifully written.

    No Expenses Spared – Robert Winnett and Gordon Rayner. Gripping stuff on MPs expenses scandal albeit self-congratulatory.

    The Nuremberg Interviews – Leon Goldensohn. Notes collected from psychiatrist’s interviews of Nazi defendants but none the less excellent journalism. Access journalists would have killed for.

  2. Have read disappointingly few on the list, but can thoroughly recommend Michael Herr’s Dispatches. Short and powerful.

    Susan D Moeller’ Compassion Fatigue still contains a lot of relevant and interesting material, though perhaps an update is due.

    Peter Beaumont’s Secret Life of War is thought-provoking, and of course Ed Behr’s Anyone Here Been Raped and Speak English should be read, if only for his anecdote about eating lions in late 50’s Morocco.

    Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London and Miller’s Tropic of Cancer are pretty good for those struggling to make it.

    Harold Evans’ My Paperchase is pretty good on a journalist’s plausible manner and rat-like cunning.

  3. Those are some good choices while gabriel says the list is disappointing one thing to always remember is that as a journalist you have to keep an open mind on everyone’s work. So even if you might say one person doesn’t do as good as a job as another they usually explain things from there point of view.

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