It is a brilliant concept - Garth Gibbs, The Independent
Books about journalism
(that everybody should read)
Below are 12 CLASSIC books - some specially commissioned and the others newly (2008/10) revised, re-edited and republished - that should be on the shelves of every working, retired or would-be journalist.
They not only celebrate the craft of journalism but also serve as guides to fine writing and as text books for the use of vocabulary and of sentence and paragraph structure.
Written with obvious relish and enjoyment by the masters of the art, they venerate what most current members of the press consider to have been the greatest era in the history of journalism.
Some have already been added to the recommended reading lists of university media and journalism or communication courses; you may agree that all of them should be.
You can choose Ian Skidmore's hilarious autobiography of a life spent as a reporter, news desk man and broadcaster, or Walter Schwarz's memoirs of life as a foreign correspondent... the pick of Vincent Mulchrone's features or of Cassandra's columns... Arnie Wilson's account of chasing the big names in show-business... Anthony Delano's accounts of two great Fleet Street scoops -- the finding of train robber Ronnie Biggs and the bizarre case of the beauty queen accused of raping a man... Liz Hodgkinson's compelling history of the part played by women in creating the success story of Fleet Street... Revel Barker's coverage of the historic trial when Liberace sued the Daily Mirror and Cassandra for suggesting he was homosexual... Hugh Cudlipp's legendary Publish and Be Damned!... great journalistic novels -- Murray Sayle's acclaimed story based on his experience on a Fleet Street scandal sheet, and Geoffrey Seed's intriguing tale of a reporter who undertakes the ultimate investigation -- and even, as a complete change from all that, Maggie Hall's fun-packed account of the amazing facts she discovered when she looked into a jar of Marmite.
Click on the titles to go to the author’s page or on the ISBN to find the book at amazon-uk.
Most titles are also available at Waterstones and the Book Depository (free delivery, worldwide), and at Barnes & Noble and amazon in the USA.
Or on order from any decent bookshop.
All are published in the UK by Revel Barker Publishing – firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact the publisher for details of Academic, Bulk, Wholesale, or other discount purchasing.
To buy directly from the publisher, using PayPal, please see information on the right.
By Garth Gibbs (The Independent, November 2008)
The newest genre in the frantic world of book publishing – books by journalists, for journalists, and about journalism – has already been dubbed ‘hack-lit’.
Mike Molloy, when editing the Daily Mirror, once remarked that half of his staff had written the first five chapters of their great novel – and that the other half had written the first chapter of five great novels.
So what is hack-lit? It is a brilliant concept. Revel Barker, a former Mirror Group managing editor who runs a website for old Fleet-Streeters called GentlemenRanters.com, started his own ‘macro-publishing’ outfit in spring this year.
Barker had read and enjoyed a book published 25 years earlier called Forgive Us Our Press Passes and persuaded the author, former freelance newspaperman and broadcaster Ian Skidmore, to double its original length. Barker agreed to publish it himself and promote it on his website.
Within weeks, it was in the top ten of Amazon’s best-sellers list.
Skidmore, who has published 25 books, was amazed by the impact of Forgive Us Our Press Passes. ‘I am prouder of it than any [other] I have ever done. New and splendid artwork, very professional publicity material, with pictures, sent to every media outlet in Chester, Liverpool, Leeds, North Wales and East Anglia, a BBC radio interview, as well as a mention on Start The Week.’
Barker’s second venture was to republish The Best of Vincent Mulchrone – described as ‘a lifetime of wit and observation of the folly and splendour of his fellow humans by the Daily Mail’s finest reporter’.
‘I spoke to his son Paddy, a reporter on the Daily Mirror, about royalties and he and his brothers immediately suggested they should go to Leukaemia Research, which is what got Vincent at the age of 54. The Daily Mail, as copyright holder, readily agreed to the suggestion,’ says Barker. Encouraged by its success, he secured permission to republish Cassandra at His Finest and Funniest, a collection from the Daily Mirror’s legendary diary column.
Barker is now awaiting the printers’ proof of his fourth project, Slip-Up: How Fleet Street Found Ronnie Biggs and Scotland Yard Lost Him by Anthony Delano.
‘It is the only book that out-scoops Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop. And it has the extra advantage of being true in every detail,’ says Barker. The novelist Keith Waterhouse described it as ‘perhaps the best analysis of Fleet Street at work ever written,’ and The Times said: ‘No journalist can afford to miss this cautionary tale.’
‘All these books were out of print,’ says Barker. ‘They were still being sold, mainly online, by second-hand bookshops but the authors were not getting a penny from them.’
Barker’s view is that these books are classics and that they should never be out of print. ‘There’s an entire generation out there, lots of them probably studying media, who have never even heard of the authors on my list. They should be given the opportunity to read and learn.
‘If the current teachers of journalism know or care for anything about the business, or want to show examples of how it was properly performed, they should be handing these titles out to their students.’
In addition to his reprints, Barker has commissioned two new titles. Liz Hodgkinson is producing a book about the history of women on Fleet Street, and Shan Davies is writing about her experience as a crime reporter on a Sunday tabloid.
‘There are still no clues at all about what the market can stand,’ admits Barker. ‘Journalists are not natural buyers of books, they are more used to picking them up free in the office or blagging them out of a publisher, so we shall have to see...’