Books, what is this arcane concept? In the fast paced journalism world, Twitter delivers the news at break neck speed while blogs commentate of it, so why would a printed book have any relevance? The answer is for the narrative, in depth detail and fantastic writing that can still be found in these tomes. Here are four books that anyone interested in data should pick up.
1. WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy
David Leigh and Luke Harding’s account of their dealings with Wikileaks and Julian Assange is the bible for budding data reporters. The Wikileaks adventure was pasted across the national press and this is an excellent insiders account into their dealings with the notorious Assange, alongside an interesting view into the workings of the Guardian. With film rights purchased by Steven Spielberg, this adventure may even be coming to a big screen near you.
2. Your Right to Know: A Citizen’s Guide to the Freedom of Information Act
Data reporting is essentially a sub-form of investigative journalism and this is Heather Brooke’s guide on how to squeeze information out of public bodies. Although some data is available through the government’s data site, some vital pieces remain elusive and this is when a Freedom of Information request is needed. To ensure an optimal and quick response, follow Brooke’s advice on researching, writing and making your requests.
3. My Trade: A Short History of British Journalism
One of my favourite books on journalism, Andrew Marr provides an excellent insight into the history of journalism in the UK and teaches the reader about reporting, working with sources and the world of political journalism. Marr has been a reporter, editor, presenter and political correspondent for some of the country’s most influential organisations so is well briefed to lecture on the continual evolution of the profession. Looking at some of the great news breaks, it provides inspiration to those looking for that next splash. Interestingly, the struggles experienced in the foundations of newspapers demonstrate that battles in the free come and go all the time. We may not see the end of print yet…
4. Flat Earth News
Nick Davies’s excellent look at news reporting is essential reading for anyone working with data. The reporter should always be looking to separate the truth from the spin and Davies’ book will “never let you look at news the same way again.” Davies was also part of the Guardian’s Wikileaks bunker and an experienced journalist, so is certainly a muse to follow,