* Well, in truth, that I need
John Kroll published his list of the 100 books every journalist must read. It’s an outstanding list, filled with books of intelligence, insight and wonder, and books that I will never read, must or not.
I have only two book titles on my must read list. Let’s face it — only the most devoted journalists will read 100 books about the craft they practice every day. Time, interest and life get in the way. My reading list should appeal to those of us with the shorter attention spans.
* Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style.” – It should be read and reread by every journalist because it will make you a better writer. And it foretells the Internet’s fascination with lists. From the Wikipedia entry: It “comprising eight ‘elementary rules of usage’, ten ‘elementary principles of composition’, ‘a few matters of form’, a list of forty-nine ‘words and expressions commonly misused’, and a list of fifty-seven ‘words often misspelled’.”
* Roy Peter Clark’s “Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer” — Again, short. Again, a list. And again, every single tool in Clark’s toolkit fits a need. Study them, experiment with them, and they will improve your work.
Both provide advice to improve the journalist’s skills. But I have other non-books on my every-journalist-should-read list. These are more about expanding your knowledge and your thinking.
* Create a strong Twitter list full of journalists who are trailblazing, trying to find a journalistic future. People such as Jay Rosen, Jeff Jarvis, Stacy Kramer, Clay Shirky, Steve Buttry, Dan Kennedy, Mindy McAdams, Dave Winer, Mathew Ingram. And, of course, John Kroll. Here’s a list I created a few years ago, but it’s inadequate. Most of them have equally valuable blogs. Creating a list of journalists and thinkers – people that you want to have in your stream to challenge you when you need challenging — keeps you ahead of the game where the rules change quickly.
* Create an RSS feed that delivers to you the websites you like. I have many sites on my reader, but on my “must” list — primarily for their range — are Mashable, Gigaom, Nieman Journalism Lab and Mediagazer. I mention these because they’re filled with links to interesting stories, some of which may interest you and others won’t. But it’s about choice. And these links will send you in unexpected directions so that you can discover stories and information that you didn’t know that you wanted to know. (Sorta like the serendipity of turning a newspaper page.)
* Sign up for the American Press Institute’s daily email newsletter. Compiled by Millie Tran, it’s filled with links to important developments in journalism and media. Need a quick guide to what’s happening and what thought leaders are writing before you leave in the morning? (The answer is yes.) This is that.
This is a terribly incomplete list. I’m sure I’ve left out some of my favorites. It’s intended as a beginning. It may seem like a lot, but it’s not difficult to manage, and once you get used to it, it’s easy to spend as much or as little time as you have. I have many more sites I like to visit because I personally like the writer or his or her style. You can find your own. Like Kroll, I welcome additions.
And now, without all those must-read books on journalism to read, you can read books of fiction or history or political science or religion and truly expand your horizons.