Each month I do a blog post based on a Goodreads group called ‘Play Book Tag.’
The group choose a theme and then people share, discuss, recommend and review books that fit the theme.
Let’s take a look!
I must confess – of all the topics that could have been picked this is quite possibly my least favourite.
As a person whose reading and writing preferences usually involve witches, magic and other supernatural sorts the topic of journalism isn’t one that I’m particularly interested in.
Did I consider skipping this month’s theme topic? Yes, I really did but I decided to rise to the challenge because for me this really is a challenge.
In summary, journalism is the practice (by journalists) of collecting information on a subject and reporting it to society.
The purpose of journalism isn’t singular. For some it is to inform or educate the public about that particular subject, others will provide opinions or their interpretation of the information while others aim to entertain.
As there are multiple purposes this means that there isn’t one ‘type’ or ‘form’ of journalism. I’m not even talking about the ways that the subject matter reaches its audience i.e. newspaper, TV, internet, or radio, I’m talking about the way that subject matter is presented.
There are many forms but here are just a few which are probably the most recognizable:-
- Advocacy journalism – a non-objective viewpoint usually reporting on social or political matters which aims to openly (i.e. without hidden bias) influence the reader.
- Data journalism – a way of using numbers or statistics to inform readers of the subject.
- Investigative journalism – in-depth reporting which may take years of research on a subject that is usually serious in nature. The goal is often to benefit society by stopping the practice or bringing the severity of the issue into public consciousness. This form of journalism has a Pulitzer Prize attached.
- Tabloid journalism – focuses more on entertainment and gossip and often sensationalizes the subject matter they are reporting on. Sensationalism is all about appealing to emotion over logic, hyperbole and dare I say it….. possible lying.
The subject matter that is being reported on may vary according to the form of journalism being utilized.
For example, an investigative journalist is not going to be concerning themselves with the love lives of celebrities – that’s for tabloid journalists. They will be more focused on issues such as gynecologists who have been violating young women for over 25 years, politicians who have sexually harassed teenage girls and the issues of violence and neglect in mental health hospitals.*
Investigative journalism is prevalent in fiction.
In some respects this is probably seen as a ‘sexy’ option especially for thrillers with high stakes. The fictional journalist can help move the plot along and although they are not detectives they do a significant deal of digging where people don’t want them to dig.
In truth, real life investigative journalism can be a dangerous business and there are many who have been killed as a result of their investigations.
On the lighter tabloid side, journalism is still not without it’s issues – ethics, subjectivity, inaccuracies through human error (or not) or just plain lies – this journalistic style can lend itself to comedic fiction and satire seems to suit this world particularly well.
*NB: these are the investigations that won the Pulitzer Price for Investigative Reporting in 2019, 2018 and 2016, respectively.
I really don’t know any.
I mean, I do now because I wrote this post but before I started writing I couldn’t think of anything.
What I could think of were a few fictional journalists.
Tintin is a teenage reporter from Belgium who ends up involved in a range of adventures along with his uber cute dog, Snowy.
Initially starting off as a photojournalist Tintin becomes more of an investigative journalist as time passes.
Lois Lane may be the wife of Clark Kent (aka Superman) but she’s more than just the ‘love interest.’
Lois has brains and bravery to spare and her career as an award winning investigative journalist for the Daily Planet is just as important as who she falls in love with.
I couldn’t remember his name so had to look it up but one of the main characters of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (aside from Lisbeth) is Mikael Blomkvist.
Another investigative journalist, Mikael’s area of specialty focuses on the corruption within the ranks of elite members of society and the secrets that they hide.
Is it wrong that I love Rita Skeeter? If you don’t know this is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s resident tabloid journalist.
She’s a great character as she truly embodies the worst aspects of tabloid journalism. Sensationalism, exaggeration and mild stalking are not of bounds for her.
This is based off of the ‘Popular Journalism Books’ list on Goodreads which contains 16,063 entries. The top ten are: –
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
- All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein
- Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga by Hunter S. Thompson
- Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 by Hunter S. Thompson
- Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
- The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson
- The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
- Dispatches by Michael Herr
- Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
Out of the above I’ve heard of numbers #1 and #6. I’ve read Into the Wild and actually didn’t even consider it a book on journalism even though, oddly enough, it appeared in last months ‘Survival’ Book Theme.
I’ve watched the movie of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and actually hated it so so much. Sorry.
I’d be interested to read The Psychopath Test but that’s probably about it.
I don’t have any because this really isn’t a genre that I usually care to read and, if I’m honest, it’s not a genre that appeals to me to read in the future.
That being said, when I go up the list from the top ten The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is present and I do have that on my TBR. There is also a book called Columbine which looks like a hard but interesting reading and also Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow which in truth, really does appeal.
This was such a hard one for me to write about this month on account of me knowing little to nothing about the journalism genre of writing and also not having a clue what counts as journalistic books!
I hope the above makes some sense to you!
Let me know if journalism is a genre you enjoy reading and if you’ve read any of the above.