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Publish And Be Damned!

Overview

The classic book on journalism and the tabloid revolution of newspapers by the master of the craft in the 20th century.
A must read for every student of journalism in the English language.
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More About This Book

Overview

The classic book on journalism and the tabloid revolution of newspapers by the master of the craft in the 20th century.
A must read for every student of journalism in the English language.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780955823893
  • Publisher: Revel Barker
  • Publication date: 11/2/2009
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.58 (d)

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  • Posted September 27, 2009

    What every journalist should know: a lively text book

    Reading a pre-publication copy of this welcome republication of an out-of-print classic book (new foreword, new introduction)I was struck by how relevant to modern journalism it remains, even 56 years on.

    The author was one of the more important young rebels of "the tabloid revolution" in newspapers, creating styles and adopting attitudes that the rest of the industry would follow, throughout the world. In a word, what he invented was Sensationalism. But this didn't mean publishing just anything that increased circulation, it also depended on truth and accuracy. He borrowed the definition of a former editor of the London Daily Mirror (who had been jailed for sensational journalism), thus:

    "Sensationalism does not mean distorting the truth. It means the vivid and dramatic presentation of events so as to give them a forceful impact on the mind of the reader. It means big headlines, vigorous writing, simplification into familiar everyday language, and the wide use of illustration by cartoon and photograph."

    He built a team of reporters and writers whose technique, he says, was simple: "to get under the readers' skin and to stay there. They were all, in their way, lay psychologists. Most of them had come from working-class or middle-class families in the provinces; they really knew and had personally experienced the aspirations and setbacks, the joys and the heartaches of the millions of ordinary people whom they set out to entertain and instruct. The down-to-earth feature pages became more and more like a letter home to the family, and that was their secret."

    It worked. Under Hugh Cudlipp's stewardship the circulation of the Daily Mirror soared from a miserable few thousand to more than five million - the highest daily sale on earth. (When he suggested putting "Largest daily sale in the universe" under the title his boss vetoed it, saying "How do we know?" How's that, for a stickler for accuracy?)

    In addition to being the inside story of the paper that rocked conventional stick-in-the-mud English complacency, the book reveals the hitherto unreported attempts by the British wartime cabinet to suppress the paper for attacking the government, as well as what happened when Winston Churchill (by this time no longer prime minister) sued it for libel. The Mirror often campaigned against seemingly impossible odds. But it also explains the fun the journalists had in creating this new form of newspaper. Fun, in fact, abounded among the campaigns and the compassion.

    The Mirror also led the field in strip cartoons, including a bright but naïve young lady with a penchant for losing her clothes in embarrassing situations during the war. An American forces newspaper, under the heading "Jane Gives All," commented: "Well, sirs, you can go home now. Right smack out of the blue and with no one even threatening her, Jane peeled a week ago. The British 36th Division immediately gained six miles and the British attacked in the Arakan. Maybe we Americans ought to have Jane, too."

    While newspaper circulations everywhere plummet alarmingly, this is the book that every journalist - and every aspiring journalist - should be reading. It's a lively text book on how mass sales were achieved the first time round. If they follow this book they could do it again. And have fun doing it.

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