3 Journalism-y Things You Should Add to Your Reading List

Facts of life: writers can’t be great unless they constantly write (practice makes perfect), and writers won’t be inspired to write unless they read. We should be reading everything: historical biographies, crappy fiction, beautiful prose, intricately-woven nonfiction narratives — and don’t forget, we should be reading the work of people who are smarter than us when it comes to digital innovation and journalism.

Here are just a few newer pieces of literary work I’ve been (and will be) digging into and would recommend for writers and reporters:

1. “Educating Journalists: A New Plea for the University Tradition”

A new academic report released by Columbia Journalism School earlier this week, this paper by Jean Folkerts, John Maxwell Hamilton and Nicholas Lemann comprises the first comprehensive snapshot of journalism education over time. Through this historical lens, the academic compilation, written by noted journalism academics, discusses the implications of technological advances in the news industry from a university standpoint and acknowledges the failures of higher education institutions in embracing digital change within J-school curriculum.

“Much of the best study of the Internet is taking place outside schools of journalism. That should change,” the paper reads. The authors finally lay out a series of absolutes they believe should be part of every graduate J-school program’s philosophies (media law, theory and history should be requirements; undergrad and graduate journalism programs should present fundamentally different concepts, they say). Basically, the thing is one big manifesto about why formalized journalism education matters and what it should consist of. A must read for anyone who calls himself a journalist.

2. “Searchlights and Sunglasses: Field Notes From the Digital Age of Journalism”

This e-book is hot off the press, having just been released Thursday at the Online News Association conference being held in Atlanta by Eric Newton of the Knight Foundation. Simply encompassing issues of “journalism and change,” the short mobile- and Web-friendly book covers everything from engagement to a discussion about whether student journalists are well-protected enough under the First Amendment. And, Newton offers a classroom teaching version for J-school profs. Topics are broken down into brief chunks and bullet points, and information is supported by reliable data and graphics. It’s pretty, too, which doesn’t hurt. I got through the e-book in an evening and plan to keep it bookmarked.

3. “Engaged Journalism: Connecting With Digitally Empowered News Audiences”

Written by Texas Tribune fellow, veteran journalist and SMU professor Jake Batsell, “Engaged Journalism…” is a forthcoming book designed to be  a “how-to” for newspeople looking for tips on developing reader engagement. After visits to nearly 24 newsrooms and 100+ interviews, Batsell’s book will “highlight examples of innovative news organizations that are finding meaningful ways to connect with (and monetize) their readers, viewers and online users,” he wrote in his proposal, the link to which was posted to his Twitter Thursday. In the journalist/educator handbook of sorts, due in late 2014 courtesy of Columbia University Press, Batsell will also entertain chapters on data journalism, the “gamification of news,” as he calls it, which highlights the use of quizzes and surveys as means of reader engagement and the ever-confusing world of hyperlocal startups and monetization. Pre-ordering this gem!

What other newer works about journalism in the digital age would you recommend?