Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

11 brilliant books for multimedia producers, journalists and entrepreneurs

Posted in Entrepreneurial Journalism, Online Video by Adam Westbrook on December 8, 2011

In 2011 I read more books than I probably did at any other time. I picked up The Catcher in the Rye for the first time, and thanks to the ease of downloading books via the Kindle app, I’ve been able to read more titles on a whim. 

My reading interests range from everything from journalism to design, to minimalism, stoicism, film making and business. I’ve picked out the best 10 for anyone making the most of the Age of the Online Publisher.

A quick note: all links to titles are affiliate links. Some titles are only available as Kindle downloads. The prices I’ve listed will probably change.

The best books I read in 2011

Steven Pressfield | War of Art: (£5.87/$9 Kindle Edition) I actually read this last year, but Steven’s follow up Do The Work, came out in 2011. If you work in any creative or business  endeavour, then you owe it to yourself to read War of Art, it is the best book I know on the battle you face to create something new. Anyone who’s launched a new website, made a film, published a book or started a business will know what I mean by the word ‘battle’: War of Art is an essential weapon.

Kurt Lancaster | DSLR Cinema: (£14.64/$22.57) This is one of the best books I know for anyone starting out using DSLR cameras (like the 5D, 7D or 550D) to shoot video. If you’ve been using these cameras for a while, it’s probably not an essential buy, but early chapters clear up any confusion you might have about frame-rates, codecs, and shutter speed.

Jonathan Field | Uncertainty: (£12.10/$14.46) Jonathan’s first book Career Renegade, was the book that made me quit my job and go freelance. About eight weeks after I finished it I was down in London starting a new life. His follow up, focuses on how to deal with uncertainty in life – if you’re self-employed, starting a new business, uncertainty is regular spectre.

Frank Rose | The Art of Immersion: (£12.92/$17.79) Frank’s book is so good, it sparked several blog posts here earlier this year. Frank examines how storytelling, journalism and even movies are being changed by new technology, chiefly by allowing audiences to participate in stories too. I can’t tell you how many ideas I had after reading Frank’s book – so give it a try.

Ira Glass | New Kings of Non-Fiction: (£8.34/$10.88) Speaking of great storytelling, it doesn’t come much better than Ira Glass. He’s compiled a collection of excellent long-form journalism, including Malcolm Gladwell and Jack Hitt. It never hurts to read journalism at its finest.

Derek Sivers | Anything You Want: (£5.73/$5) Another title that sparked a big blog post here in 2011, Derek Sivers has some of the best common sense (or as he would say ‘uncommon sense’) advice for starting a business in the digital world. It got me wondering how newspapers would fare if they were run this way – if you liked that post, then dig deeper with Derek’s book.

Brenda Ueland | If You Want To Write: (£7.99/$7.99)This one came recommended by future of photography expert Miki Johnson this year, and boy is it a game changer. Brenda offers the best no-nonsense advice for anyone wanting to write (fiction or non-fiction) and her style is addictive. A word of note, this book was published in the 1950s so comes with some rather old-school values. See past that and you get some gems.

Darrell Huff | How to Lie with Statistics: (£5.99/$6.83) And sticking with old school, here’s another mid-century treat for any journalist dealing with numbers – a skill very few excel at (if you’ll excuse the pun). Guardian data journalist James Ball recommended this book to me as a great primer for the tricks people try and play with numbers. If you’re into data, infographics or similar this is fun introduction.

Alison Bavistock | The Naked Author: (£10.42/$22.95) Alison’s new book is a beefy guide for anyone thinking of by-passing traditional publishers and joining the likes of John Locke as authors making a mint on Amazon. As well as practical advice, Alison takes a good hard look at where publishers fit in this new world. [Disclosure: Alison is a colleague at Kingston University’s Department of Journalism & Publishing].

Al Tompkins | Aim for the Heart (2nd Ed) (£18.99/$29.35) US TV news journalist Al Tompkins has updated his guide to video storytelling and has techniques on interviews, graphics and ethics. It’s aimed at the US local news reporter, so is a bit focused on quick soundbites and writing leads – but Al’s core message is an invaluable one: tell human stories.

Scott Belsky | Making Ideas Happen: (£6.06/$17.79) the founder of 37 Signals (one of the most successful web businesses out there) published this book early in 2010, but I had to wait patiently until this spring to get a copy in the UK. It’s worth the wait though: and guides you through the 99% of perspiration that goes into creating great stuff, with neat advice on time management and motivation.

What great books have you read in 2011?

10 trends in journalism in 2010

Posted in Journalism by Adam Westbrook on December 15, 2009

It’s that time of year again…

After a turbulent year in the industry, I’ve had a good think and put together my top 10 trends for journalism for 2010, wrapped in a big shiny positive outlook. But rather than roll out another list, I thought I’d be a bit different and crack out some video. Enjoy!

And is there anything I’ve missed? Add it in the comments box!

See you in 2009

Posted in Uncategorized by Adam Westbrook on December 18, 2008

Just a quick one to say I’m leaving the UK for the next couple of weeks for a rather less festive Christmas!
I’ll be in India, and rather than blog, I’ll keep you updated (where possible) via Twitter

http://www.Twitter.com/AdamWestbrook

Happy New Year!

Comments Off on See you in 2009

2007 in 9 minutes

Posted in Adam, Broadcasting and Media, News and that by Adam Westbrook on December 24, 2007

Hello!

Yes I’m back, after an absence so long it puts Noel Edmunds to shame.

In case you’re wondering what the hell I’ve been up to since May…well I’ve been working and 2007 ended up being far busier than I imagined.

Thanks to the wonder of radio it’s now been succinctly summarised in a podcast special on the 102 Touch FM website – introduced by yours truly.

Click here to go see (you’ll need to scroll down to “Exclusive: news review of 2007”)

Merry Christmas readers; I’ll be back in 2008 – I promise…!

Comments Off on 2007 in 9 minutes

No news at Christmas?

Posted in Uncategorized by Adam Westbrook on December 26, 2006

Apparently it’s hard work putting together a news programme over Christmas. The misery of working Christmas Eve/Day and perhaps sipping a bit too much sherry aside, the problem facing journos over the festive period seems to be the lack of news.

“It can be quite tricky putting together a news programme on Christmas Eve… when there’s no news” writes Channel 4 News’ Emily Wilson on Christmas Eve, “surely in the last 24 hours, something other than Mark Ramprakash winning Strictly Come Dancing merits some television coverage.”

But this to me seems extraordinary. No news? If any editor tried looking outside the UK they’d see one of the most important stories of this and the coming year playing out in front of their eyes.

I’ve been writing quite a bit over the past few months about the burgeoning conflict in Somalia.  In August the United Islamic Courts, a fundamentalist Islam group, took control of Mogadishu, ending over a decade of warlord induced chaos. The legitimate government holed up in Baidoa protested, but there were initial talks and a prospect of peace.

But then the two neighbouring countries, Ethiopia and Eritrea got involved. Ethiopia’s a big supporter of the interim government, as its essentially Christian. Muslim Eritrea meanwhile’s behind the UIC.

We’ve all known since September that Ethiopia’s had troops massing inside the country. But on Christmas Eve they finally admitted the fact, and launched several military attacks against the Islamists. As it stands now, the UIC are in a retreat, and Ethiopian troops are about 70 km from the capital.

Why is this important? First off, under the UIC, Somalia became a worry to the west especially as an Al-Qaeda training ground. Whether this is true or not we don’t know. Secondly the real danger emerging is of a proxy war between Ethiopia and Eritrea fought in Somalia – something that could have tragic consequences for ordinary Somalians. This is afterall a country that hasn’t seen stability since 1991.

And that’s before you consider Somalia’s proximity to other hot spots, notably the DR Congo and Sudan.

So a massive conflict on the brink. I think we’ll here a lot more about Somalia next year.

So far, Al-Jazeera English is the only network leading with that story. At the same time I know african conflict isn’t really in the remit christmas domestic bulletins in the UK . But if journalists are so desperate for news, isn’t a burgeoning conflict with immense humanitarian consequences more significant than an indepth report on Leona’s X-factor win?

And as I write, there are devastating floods in Indonesia, four hundred dead in a pipeline explosion in Lagos…oh and a 1 metre tidal wave heading for Taiwan and the Phillipines (2 years to the day after “The Tsunami”.)

No news at Christmas? Yeah right.  

Screenwipe: update

Posted in Uncategorized by Adam Westbrook on December 21, 2006

A wee while ago I praised the acerbic wit of TV critic and comedian Charlie Brooker on his pant-soilingly hilarious BBC Four programme Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe.

For those of you who were so enamoured by Mr Brooker and went on to watch the whole of series one and two on Youtube (if you didn’t – do it!) let it be known that the Screenwipe Christmas Special‘s airing on BBC Four in the UK  tonight at 23:10 pm.

Watch it or else.

Here’s a trailer from the BBC Four website.

Tagged with: , ,

Fog CHAOS!!!!!

Posted in Uncategorized by Adam Westbrook on December 21, 2006

Not since the summer’s terror alert have BBC News 24 viewers been treated to angry commuters moaning without limit about delays that are no-ones fault.

“Me and my missus have a flight to see our nephew in Spain. It’s been cancelled and we’ve had to sit in the airport for 8 hours. On those funny seats. And my wife’s got a bad hip.”

“Would you say your Christmas has been ruined?”

“Christmas?…oh yeah, Christmas. Yes, it’s ruined. Totally ruined!”

News 24 has excelled itself this morning bringing us the latest stock footage of people milling in Heathrow terminal 2 and best of all, a live shot of…..the fog.

And you thought the helicopter over Tom Stevens’ house was pointless enough. Not so,  a wide shot of a grey blanket of mist is the “telling shot” of this story clearly. You might as well turn off the telly and listen to Five Live while staring at a blank piece of paper.

But let’s not forget this is a major news event. Jane Hill just called the fog “appalling” – a word usually reserved for sex crimes against children.

You heard it here first:  fog is the paedophile of the weather world.

Regent’s Street christmas lights

Posted in Uncategorized by Adam Westbrook on November 11, 2006

Regents Street Christmas 3

 

In an abortive attempt to get properly festive this year I popped along to the turning on of the Regent’s Street christmas lights in central London, the smaller sibling of the big Christmas light display on Oxford Street.

Regents Street Christmas 2

The verdict? Garish, crass, not at all christmassy, and a sickenly commercial plug for the latest sugar filled kiddies movie.

All the lights are adorned with characters from “flushed away” (some film about toilets apparently).

While I was there though, I had a quick look at the BBC’s much feted W1 Project: a rennovation of Broadcasting House including the largest newsroom in the world.

W1 Project