Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

Broadcast Journalism: a bibliography

Posted in Adam, Broadcasting and Media by Adam Westbrook on November 1, 2008

Here’s a post which has been sitting in my draft folder for more than a year! No Idea why I never published it at the time…but here it is. Other journos: feel free to add your own suggestions or reviews of the below!


Long before I could do any broadcast journalism I used to read about it loads. Rather a good tip for any aspiring journos as it makes the training a little easier to digest.

Well, it seems a good point to dispense my top reads for the wannabe hack, and I’m sure for the practicing one too (we never stop learning etc etc)

Broadcast Journalism: Techniques of Radio and Television News by Andrew Boyd (2003, 2005, 2008)

Andrew Boyd

Broadcast Journalism: Andrew Boyd

If there was ever a bible for how to be a reporter, this book would be the Old Testament. It’s recent enough to make it still relevant and has been through enough versions to make it an old face. The best thing about this book is you can read it even if you know nothing about radio or television at all. Perfect for the basics.

Best bit:Revealing “day in the life” chapters on TV and radio

Worst bit: the version I have is outdated when it comes to VJing and online news.

The Television News Handbook by Vin Ray (2005)

Vin Ray

Television News Handbook: Vin Ray

If Boyd is the Old Testament then this book most certainly is the New Testament. This book is fantastic and unique because it says ‘don’t just be a journalist, be a really good one.’ Vin Ray’s a BBC man so there’s lots of great info from the hallows of BBC correspondents, and the sections on writing and picture assembly are unrivalled.

Best bit: great advice on writing to pictures

Other best bit: good advice on training, getting a job and surviving a BBC job interview.

Worst bit: very little radio

Local Radio Journalism by Paul Chantler and Sim Harris (1997, 2003)

My version of this book is so old it still talks about DATs and Uhers. But it’s still the book I have on my desk at work. This is probably because it’s slim and it’s got all the basic info you need as a local reporter right to hand. It’s unique selling point is it’s focus on local journalism and I’ve made jottings all over the chapters about finding sources and stories. I also believe a new versions come out for 2008.

Best bit: a really slick section on media law. Not enough to pass an exam but makes clear the difference between libel and slander.

Worst bit: it needs a new edition pronto.

Directing On Camera: A Checklist of Film and Video Technique by Harris Watts (1992)

Yikes, I’ve only just rediscoverd this book on my shelf and I suspect it’s gone  out of print. The last edition was 15 years ago, and it’s nothing to do with journalism. But still that’s where I learnt hugely important things like the importance of the cutaway, cross shooting and the best advice: “shoot for editing”.

Best bits: simple and well organised. Relevant still despite its age.

Worst bits: It’s ooollld.

Jim Beaman

Interviewing for Radio: Jim Beaman

Interviewing For Radio by Jim Beaman (2000)

This one’s one of those uber specific ones. There are better ones for finding out how radio works, but this is the best when it comes to getting the best out of an interviewee.

Best bit: good practical advice for all the different types of interview

News From No Man’s Land by John Simpson

The only autobiography here, because its got loads of advice on the practicalities of being a correspondent. Of course books like this are very inspiring too, but John mixes his adventures with advice on the art of TV news.

McNae’s Media Law (whatever the latest edition is…)

Weell, you wouldn’t be a hack without one of these. Or at least you shouldn’t be one. I dunno. Don’t bother reading it until you’re training though. It’s totally unfathomable until then.

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