Andy Dickinson Andy is a Senior lecturer in Journalism at Manchester Metropolitan University where he is the program lead for the MA Multimedia Journalism.

Novice and 'deep dive' journalism books

Reading Time:

A regular read for me  is Lon Riesberg's Data Elixr email newsletter.  To be honest, most of it goes over my head - its quite hardcore data and natural language processing in places. But there's always something worth a look if you have a passing interest in data and related stuff.

This weeks newsletter had an interesting mention of the DataViz book club.  They started with “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information” by Edward Tufte. But there was an interesting twist on the next selection.

After the success of reading Tufte in the Data Vis Book Club, this blog post will explain what we’ll read next. From now on we will have two tracks:

The track for data vis novices. Perfect if you want to get a good overview of what to consider when creating data visualization. Maybe you’re a beginner in the field, or maybe you’ve been dealing with just one part of data vis (statistics, or design, or programming) and want to extend your horizon. Edward Tufte’s book belonged in this track.

The track for deep divers. Perfect if you’ve been creating data visualizations for a while and have read one or two general introductions. By now you find that these introductions explain too many things you’re already aware of. In this track, we’ll read papers, historical data vis books (Bertin, Cleveland) or the books about niche topics (maps, color).

And good to their word there's two books to chose from. For the novices its Alberto Cairo’s “The Truthful Art” (very good) and for the deep divers it's Tamara Munzner’s “Visualization Analysis & Design”.  I don't know Munzner's book. But I'm going to look it up.

I'm not sure the twin track thing is sustainable.  I envisage some discussion about the choice -  what constitutes and deep-enough dive? But I like the idea and it made me think about book recommendations.

It'll soon be time to start teaching again and I've been keeping in touch with new students on my MA using a facebook group. Feeding in interesting links etc. and giving everyone chance to virtually say hello. One of the things I did was outline some standard text books that would make for good resources for prospective students who are new to studying journalism - MacNae; Randall; Harcup etc.  But I wanted to balance that with some broader 'contextual' reading about journalism that wasn't a text book.

So, I also I recommend some reading I'd enjoyed. It wasn't meant to be exhaustive or definitive. It was meant to get the ball rolling - more book club than 'you must buy this for your course'. Here's what I suggested:

  • Flat Earth News – Nick Davies
  • The Village that Voted the Earth was Flat - Rudyard Kipling.
  • The Journalist and the Murderer – Janet Malcolm
  • The New Journalism – Tom Wolfe.
  • The New Precision Journalism - Philip Meyer

Deep Dive journalism reading

It's interesting to think about where these and the standard text books would fit in that idea of novice and deep dive.  Is Curan and Seaton's Power without Responsibility the deep dive to Davies' Flat Earth News? Is Simon Rogers' Facts are Sacred the 'overview' to the historical deep-diving of Meyer's  Precision Journalism.

More broadly, is it more helpful to think about reading lists in a 'twin track' way. Recommend a book, but also recommend a related deep-dive along side it?

I'd love to know what your novice/deep-dive pairings would be for journalism students.

Picture CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 from PoL Úbeda Hervàs via Flickr

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