Originally published on Goodreads:
Note: Turn to the last page of the book, and there I am, a Kickstarter backer of this book.
“In Other News: Reporters on Reporting” fills a valuable role for new or prospective journalists, particularly reporters, looking for some career guidance. As newsrooms have shrunk, which nearly all of them have, so to have the number of available mentors, in part because even would-be mentors often find themselves too busy to help out, even when they want to.
So this book fills that gap, with interviews with a dozen journalists from across the United States, and at a mix of print, online and broadcast outlets. Stephanie Forshee and Rosie Downey also interviewed a good number of female journalists and journalists of color, the latter of whom are still in woefully small supply across most outlets, and whose voices are especially needed by new journalists looking for advice.
The interviews tend to be about their career paths, and include other voices from the journalists’ paths, although in the cases of particularly interesting pieces they’ve worked on, the interviews may end up focusing on a particular story or series instead.
The book’s not perfect. It could use at least one more good edit, for one thing: The first interview uses “self-admittedly,” which would cause most copy editors I’ve known in the past 25 years to scream, and the last piece includes quotes from a former co-worker of the subject, but never gives their first name or an explanation why it’s not included. But those errors are a lesson for new reporters, as well.
And despite the fact that the two authors both work for smaller outfits themselves, the book is entirely focused on larger, more famous publications — I think all of the newspapers mentioned in the book are in the top 25 in the nation by circulation, despite the fact that there are more than 1,200 newspapers being published today. That gives the unfortunate impression that these larger market publications are what “real” journalism is about and that it’s what new journalists should aspire to, despite the fact that most of the journalists at those publications aren’t going to be leaving any time soon (and if they are, there often won’t be a job opening left when they do), and that there isn’t any good work being done at small publications. (Daniel Gilbert of the 39,000-circulation Herald Courier in Bristol, Virginia, won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, and my colleagues won the Pulitzer for Local Reporting in 2015 while at the 57,000-circulation Daily Breeze in Torrance.)
But those, honestly, are quibbles, and maybe something to be addressed in a second edition. Because this is a book that new and aspiring journalists should be reading, especially those who weren’t born with a passion to become a journalist or who didn’t take the route through a prestigious undergraduate journalism program and an expensive graduate degree program. There are journalists in this book, some of them household names, who didn’t decide on journalism until decades into adulthood and many others who took circuitous paths to get to where they are today. The big lesson of this book — that there’s no one “right” way to make it in journalism — is one I think every journalist at the start of what is still an immensely satisfying, if challenging, career path ought to hear.