Thursday, February 28, 2008

Book Review: The Journalist's Handbook

Originally posted to this second's obsession, but removed when I decided to focus that blog towards fashion and aesthetics.

I have had this book out from the library for a couple of months and I returned it yesterday, having learnt two things: one - I don't want to be a news journalist, ever and two - I don't want to have a job as a journalist. Okay, I generally don't want to have a job, but journalism as a job is a stressful, deadline focused, competitive career and is not at all for me. Fletcher is obviously devoted to his career. He is proud of being a journalist, serious about the moral and ethical dilemmas the job often involves, and would definitely inspire someone who was interested in a career in journalism. His enthusiasm seemed totally alien to me, which helped me realise that I could never make it as a full-time career journalist.

I think Kim Fletcher's The Journalist's Handbook isn't really deserving of its title as it is not that comprehensive. It focuses on how to build a career as a journalist, how to work your way up and deal with different people, and it does this really really well. There are lots of personal anecdotes from the writer and other journalists. Different stages in a journalist's career are covered in detail. It barely touches on the subject of how to write a piece. It compares the different emphasis that different newspapers will give to a story, offers some advice about interviewing people and that's about it. I don't think it is worth a permanent place upon my bookshelf because there is little in the book that I would want to refer back to. I was hoping for a little more information on how to structure a piece, because all have currently is from the course on journalism I took at university, and from one chapter in Teach Yourself: Creative Writing (an excellent all-round book for absolute beginners, or people who like things to be consise! Buy buy buy!). Sadly, this book doesn't deliver at this level.

If you are looking for information about journalism as a career, this book is great. If you are looking for some advice on practical writing, so am I. Still.

Six out of ten Eight out of ten

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