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The Great Reporters review
The Great Reporters, David Randall – Pluto Press, £14.99
David Edwards and David Cromwell – Pluto Press, £14.99
Carnage and the Media, Jean Seaton – Penguin Books £19.99
Almost single-handedly Pluto Press has consistently published books that question the quality of mainstream journalism and which seek to hold the so-called “liberal media” to account for inaccurate – and often blatantly flagrant – reporting.
The Great Reporters, written by David Randall and also published by Pluto, is an excellent and entertaining read about the author’s personal selection of a “who’s who” of journalism. Those journalists that make the grade include popular favourites William Howard Russell, famed for his dispatches from the Crimean War, Nellie Bly, who feigned mental illness to report on New York mental asylums and who travelled the world in 72 days, and James Cameron, renowned for his humane overseas reporting.
Yet one has to question a book with such a title that chooses to include the Daily Mail’s Ann Leslie – yes, the same Ann Leslie who once described Dubya as “one of the wiliest people” she had ever interviewed and only in October last year questioned (but did not withdraw) her backing for him – and sports hack Hugh McIlvanney over the likes of John Pilger, Paul Foot, Robert Fisk, Seymour Hersh, Philip Knightley and Gunter Wallraff. Each to their own, I suppose.
Jean Seaton’s Carnage and the Media is an examination of the relationship between news-makers and news-watchers, looking at how images of war and tragedy are presented to the public by the media. For those who find Roland Barthes’ Mythologies fascinating and revolutionary as opposed to partially witty coffee-table reading, then this book is for you. The first chapter focuses on the “link” between the meat trade and journalism, for example. For anyone other than those doing a media studies course who will have this peddled to them as a core text, this book is at least 355-pages too long (it runs at 360 pages) and would have been better served as an extended feature of some kind.
“The Great Reporters is an excellent and entertaining read about the author’s personal selection of a ‘who’s who’ of journalism”