Stephen Glover gives the inside story on the world of journalism from commissioned pieces by the leading luminaries, editors, hacks, politicos and power players of journalism; men and women, gossip columnists and news editors, high and low. The pieces vary widely in theme: from how it is to work as a foreign journalist abroad, to the art of door-stepping, in between considering who makes money out of journalism or telling tales of notorious liquid lunches.
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It's quite a coup to persuade 26 top newspaper writers in the Paul Foot, Lynne Truss, Peter Mackay and Zoe Heller league each to write a new piece about their trade. One of the triumvirate that gave birth to Britain's The Independent newspaper in the 1980s, Stephen Glover was also founding editor of The Independent on Sunday. Today he is The Daily Mail's political columnist. This man knows newspapers and newspaper people.
Here he presents a wide-ranging set of essays, from Oxford historian Niall Ferguson on Media Dons to Emma Daly, for whom "war is the greatest human interest story there is", on front-line reporting. Then there's AN Wilson being waspish about reviewers and Stephen Fay creating a ruefully witty story out of being sacked over breakfast at Claridge's. And nostalgic recollections of the old relaxed booziness of Fleet Street flow from the maudlin pens of, for example, Frances Wheen and Alan Watkins. Lamenting the great days of James Cameron and Martha Gellhorn, Wheen is contemptuous of today's columnists who fill their space with "self-regarding blather about what they saw on telly last night, or the state of their love life, or extempore opinions without any sort of anchorage in fact".
Like most anthologies, The Penguin Book of Journalism is a bit disparate and serendipitous in places. It will often make you laugh. The more reflective contributors might even bring a lump to your throat. And you'll probably learn something. --Susan Elkin
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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110140277013