The best journalism books 📚

Browse the best books on journalism as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism

Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism

By Ric Burns

Why this book?

Burns brilliantly tells the story of those first potent American journalists, the pamphleteers, who brought to their craft lively, probing, acerbic, and often angry commentary and reporting. Some ripped into George Washington and the Federalists, thus establishing a tradition of journalism that extends to our own time. Others went after Jefferson and the fledgling Democratic-Republicans. And one, James Callender, broke the story of the now-famous Jefferson dalliance with his slave Sally Hemmings. 

From the list:

The best books on the triumphs and struggles of American journalism

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Book cover of The Paper: The Life and Death of the New York Herald Tribune

The Paper: The Life and Death of the New York Herald Tribune

By Richard Kluger

Why this book?

This is primarily the story of three newspapers--James Gordon Bennett’s New York Herald, Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, and the merged paper under the ownership of diplomat and politician Whitelaw Reid and his heirs, including his daughter-in-law, Helen Rogers Reid, a firecracker of an executive and woman about town. But it is also a comprehensive story of New York newspapering from the 1830s to the 1960s and about the city and country that served as the focus for news coverage during those decades. It is a poignant tale of soaring triumphs and ultimate decline as new challenges beset…

From the list:

The best books on the triumphs and struggles of American journalism

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Book cover of Decline and Fall: The struggle for power at a great American magazine: The Saturday Evening Post

Decline and Fall: The struggle for power at a great American magazine: The Saturday Evening Post

By Otto Friedrich

Why this book?

Before Life there was the Saturday Evening Post, a roaring success capturing the spirit of Middle America at a time when Middle America defined the cultural ethos of the nation. But by the late 1950s the potent reach of television advertising undermined the general-interest magazine business model, and the Post slipped into an inexorable spiral of decline that its top executives could never quite handle or even understand. There’s plenty of pathos and human drama as they struggle with forces beyond their control. 

From the list:

The best books on the triumphs and struggles of American journalism

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Book cover of Flat Earth News: An Award-Winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media

Flat Earth News: An Award-Winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media

By Nick Davies

Why this book?

A highly perceptive if rather depressing examination of how the British media works, how expensive investigative journalism has largely given way to opinion columns and trivia about so-called celebrities, how stories are often not stories, how papers dress up partisan opinion as fact. In short, an exposure of the falsehoods, distortion, and propaganda that have corrupted the media. Nick Davies was a journalist at the Guardian.

From the list:

The best books on how the world works

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Book cover of True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa

True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa

By Michael Finkel

Why this book?

This book explores the relationship between writer and subject and provides a lesson on the lengths one should go in exercising one’s craft. An ironic twist comes in the form of Finkel himself being a victim of a crime, which gives rise to the thrust of this story. As a fan of memoirs and true crime, this book kept my interest all of the way through.
From the list:

The best books about true crime and the dark side of human nature

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Book cover of Out on Assignment: Newspaper Women and the Making of Modern Public Space

Out on Assignment: Newspaper Women and the Making of Modern Public Space

By Alice Fahs

Why this book?

The book Out on Assignment examines the careers of overlooked women who wrote for major metropolitan newspapers at the beginning of the twentieth century. Using archival materials, Alice Fahs describes a community of female journalists from numerous American cities. These newspaper women were part of a wave of women seeking a journalism career although their options were often limited. Although a few female journalists found hard-news reporting jobs in stunt work and undercover assignments, most found work in the women’s pages.

In these sections, they interviewed celebrities, advice columns, and suffrage news. Very little research has been done on…

From the list:

The best books about women, politics and journalism in the post-World War II years

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