Journalism: principles and practice, Tony Harcup, Sage, 2009
A very accessible but also comprehensive overview of journalism including news writing, investigative work, features and reviews. Lots of anecdotes and interviews with working journalists. Highly readable.

Essential Reporting, Jon Smith, NCTJ, 2010
A great insight into the joys and pitfalls of reporting, with a strong emphasis on local newspapers. Highly practical and easy to dip in to. A key text from the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).

Journolists: 201 ways to improve your journalism, Cedric Pulford, Ituri, 2001
Not the most recent, but one of the most readable pocket guides to news writing. Some of the tips, like writing a news intro as though you are telling someone something when you are out of breath, are clever and memorable. You can read this in a couple of hours. It won’t break the bank either.

Writing feature articles, Brendan Hennessy, Focal Press, 2003
A really solid and practical ‘how to’ guide to researching, writing and marketing a wide of feature articles. Detailed and comprehensive.

McNae’s essential law for journalists, NCTJ, 2012
Essential indeed, this new edition of the media law bible for UK  journalists contains everything you need to know about defamation, copyright, court reporting, coroners and lots more. Editors hate nothing more than a hack who exposes them to legal action unnecessarily; so a worthwhile investment.

Grammar and style

English for journalists, Wynford Hicks, Routledge, 2007 Simple and clear guidance on grammar, puctuation, spelling, reporting speech and style.

Guardian Style, David Marsh, Guardian Books, 2007
A must have for any journalist, this guide to grammar, use of quotes, and linguistic pitfalls includes a section on editing for the web.

Top news writing tips – click here


Music journalism

Where Have all the Good Times Gone?: The Rise and Fall of the Record Industry, Louis Barfe, Atlantic Books, 2005.
This authoritative and highly entertaining history charts the meteoric rise and slow decline of the popular recording industry.

The Last Party: Britpop, Blair and the demise of English rock John Harris, Harper Perennial, 2003. Harris argues that the high point of British music’s cultural impact – Britpop – also signalled its effective demise – if rock stars were now friends of the government, then how could they continue to matter?

Bass Culture: When Reggae was King, Lloyd Bradley, Penguin Books, 2001. In the first major account of the history of reggae, Lloyd Bradley describes its origins and development in Jamaica, from ska to rock-steady to dub and then to reggae itself.

Fashion journalism

In Fashion: From Runway to Retail, Everything You Need to Know to Break Into the Fashion Industry, Annemarie Iverson, Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2010
If you’ve ever dreamed of working at Vogue, photographing supermodels, or outfitting celebrities, former beauty and fashion news director of Harper’s Bazaar and editor in chief of Seventeen, Annemarie Iverson, knows just how to get noticed and stay on top. In Fashion is packed with her insightful tips, along with advice from leaders at Michael Kors, Bergdorf Goodman, Condé Nast, and more.

Decades of Fashion, Harriet Worsley, Tandem Verlag GmbH, 2007
Worsley offers a fascinating insight into 100 years of fashion history, spanning haute couture to pret-a-porter, and including top designers, from Coco Chanel to Alexander McQueen. Political events have repercussions for fashion, and this book places many fashion fads in their historical context.

100 Ideas that Changed Fashion, Harriet Worsley, Laurence King Publishing, 2011
Charting the movements, developments and ideas that transformed the way women dress, this book gives a unique perspective on the history of twentieth-century fashion. But rather than just documenting these changes in fashion, it crucially explains why they happened.

Travel writing

Travel Writing (How to Guide), Don George, Lonely Planet, 2009
A great introduction to the subject; covers finding and focusing your story, crafting a structure, bringing your story to life, and writing and editing.

Travel Writing: see the world, sell the story, L. Peat O’Neil, Writer’s Digest Books, 2006
The globe-trotter’s Guide to researching, writing and selling the adventures of a lifetime. Let the reader feel the ticket in your hand, see your ports of call and meet the people you’ve come to know. Put it all on paper, with guidance from L. Peat O’Neil of The Washington Post Magazine.

Get your travel writing published, Cynthia Dial, Hodder Education, 2010
This book
 will give those of you who love to travel and long to write about it the essential tools to turn their passion into a profession. Find out what steps you will need to take to get your work published, the ABCs of writing winning travel articles and the markets available to you, and how to avoid common beginner’s pitfalls.

The Coast Road: A 3,000 Mile Journey Round the Edge of England, Paul Gogarty, Robson Books, 2004
Winner of the ‘Travel Narrative Book of the Year’ in 2005 by the British Guild of Travel Writers (BGTW), The Coast Road presents an idiosyncratic and illuminating snapshot of England and what it is to be English today. In this travelogue, award-winning writer Paul Gogarty travels 3,000 miles in a motorhome, exploring intimate coastal communities and ruminating on the future of the English coast.

The Water Road: A Narrowboat Odyssey Through England, Paul Gogarty, Robson Books, 2002
Starting in London, Paul Gogarty follows a figure of eight through Britain’s major cities and across the Pennines. Entering the world’s most concentrated canal network, Gogarty sails into England’s past and future. The Water Road is a voyage that is poignant, illuminating and entertaining at every turn.

Neither Here, Nor There: Travels in Europe, Bill Bryson, Secker & Warburg, 1991
Bryson brings his unique brand of humour to bear on Europe as he shoulders his backpack, keeps a tight hold on his wallet, and journeys from Hamemrfest, the northernmost town on the continent, to istanbul on the cusp of Asia. Fluent in, oh, at least one language, he retraces his travels as a student twenty years before.

Investigative journalism

Investigative Journalism, Hugo de Burgh, Routledge, 2008
A very comprehensive introduction to investigative journalism, including analysis of relatively recent investigations, practical tips and a highly readable history of investigative reporting.

Investigative Reporting: a study in technique, David Spark, Focal Press, 2003
It doesn’t get more practical than this step by step guide to planning and carrying out an investigation. Chapters such as Getting people to talk, Pursuing enquiries, Dealing with documents and Looking into companies are invaluable. Spark writes with infectious passion and enthusiasm about the thrills and frustrations of investigative work.

Celebrity journalism

The Celeb Diaries: The Sensational Inside Story of the Celebrity Decade
Ex-Heat editor Mark Frith takes us behind the scenes of one of the most popular celebrity weekly magazines of all time. Charting the explosion of Big Brother, igniting the Size Zero debate and watching Britney’s descent from sexpot to being sectioned, Heat was there for every major celebrity debate. The Celeb Diaries is Mark’s incredible story of his life in the eye of the celeb storm.

The Insider: The Private Diaries of a Scandalous Decade
Ex Daily Mirror editor turned US chat show host, Piers Morgan, was made editor of the News of the World, at the age of 28. His diaries from this period reveal astonishing encounters with an endless list of celebrities and politicians including Princess Diana, Charles and Camilla, Tony Blair,  Paul McCartney, George Michael and Elton John to name just a few.

Read All About It
Media guru Max Clifford is the man that celebrities, and the many ordinary people who become famous overnight, call when they need media representation. Here, he unwraps his dealings with major icons such as the Beatles and the Beckhams. An interesting glimpse into celebrity culture, and the people who decide what you see on the front page.

Journalism websites
Packed with news, jobs, events and training for would be and experienced journalists. One of the best journalism sites around.

Hold the front page 
This site is similar to, but has a great ‘story ideas’ section –  especially handy if you work or intern for a local paper. It also has a few journalism jobs.

The Centre for Investigative Journalism 
Gives you a good insight into what distinguishes investigative journalism from everyday reporting – look out for the explanation of why a ‘hypothesis’ is critical for every investigative journalist. It also has a very useful guide to using google and other search facilities for investigative research.

Media law

By Jamie Elliott

A must know for every journalist

We include media law in all our courses because being able to spot the legal risks in a story is a vital skill for any journalist.

This is because, whilst an editor may forgive the odd spelling mistake or factual inaccuracy, a law suit – especially one for defamation – can end up costing a media organisation millions. It can also leave an editor, and even the journalist concerned, bankrupt.

And even if you win a libel case, it can still cost you or your employer a small fortune.

Top ten tips for avoiding a libel suit – click here

Libel law and the ‘chilling effect’
Journalists in England and Wales face a far higher bar than in many other countries when it comes to persuading editors that it is legally safe to publish. We have some of the toughest libel laws in the world.

This is because someone who believes they have been defamed does not have to prove an allegation is false. They simply have to show that what has been published ‘tends to’ damage their reputation in the eyes of ‘right thinking members of society’.

The burden of proof as far as the truthfulness of an allegation goes, lies entirely with the publisher (which means the media organisation, the editor, the journalist, or all three). The publisher has to prove the story is true to combat an allegation of libel – the person or corporation suing for libel does not have to prove it is false.

This is in stark contrast to the United States for example, where anyone suing for libel must first prove that the statement was false, and second, that it caused harm.  They also have to prove that any allegation was made without adequate research to check its accuracy.

Editors are terrified of libel
The upshot of our very stringent libel laws is that editors here are terrified of being sued and tend to take a decidedly safety first approach when it comes to breaking controversial stories. This has become known as the ‘chilling effect’.

In my experience, editors tend to raise the threshold of legal safety higher than may be strictly necessary in order to be absolutely sure that they are not going to have to explain to their boss why a costly law suit has to be defended.

If, as a journalist, you have one or two witnesses who are prepared to go on the record to back up your story, your editor may demand at least one or two more. Or they may tell you that a story can only be covered once the perpetrators have been prosecuted when any report will be covered by absolute privilege (the legal protection which means reports of court cases cannot be subject to libel claims).

Important stories remain unpublished
As a result of the very legitimate concerns of editors – most national news organisations are defending a number of libel cases at any one time – many stories which journalists and editors know to be true never see the light of day.

This can mean that serious wrong-doing by individuals and corporations sometimes goes unchallenged because the risk of being sued is too great – especially if the individuals or corporations have deep pockets.