Saturday, April 5, 2008

Five best books about journalism

Veteran newsman Roger Mudd picked the five best books about journalism for the Wall Street Journal.

One title on his list:
The Elements of Journalism
By Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel
Crown, 2001

"The purpose of journalism is to provide people with the information they need to be free and self-governing" -- as clear a statement of purpose as has ever been written. Former newspapermen Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel know what they are talking about. The problem, of course, is that journalists labor in an extraordinarily complicated world that sometimes gets in the way. They are paid by the corporation but work for their readers; their copy is screened by editors who are appointed by management; the pressure of entertainment news eats away at their purity; and their owners, more and more coming from outside the news business, are motivated primarily by the bottom line. In 1997 the authors assembled the Committee of Concerned Journalists, composed of 25 leading members of the profession, in an attempt to restore journalism's fading credibility. After three years of studies and public forums, Kovach and Rosenstiel laid out the committee's findings in "The Elements of Journalism." The central message: Unless journalists themselves "reclaim the theory of a free press," they "risk allowing their profession to disappear." The book was an immediate best seller. Translated into 22 languages, it is a standard textbook in almost every journalism school in the country. It also belongs on the shelf of every citizen who reads the paper or watches the tube.
Read about all five books on Mudd's list.

--Marshal Zeringue