Books by journalists: Gathering String – Mimi Johnson

In March last year, I was lucky enough to meet Steve Buttry – the Digital Transformation Editor at Digital First Media, an American news organisation which has taken a radical approach to digital publishing in the States. For anyone interested in serious discussion about the future of a media which has its roots in print, his blog is essential reading.

So why mention it when clearly writing about a book which doesn’t have his name on the front? Well, I found out about the book via his blog, written by his wife, Mimi Johnson. Yet it was only when he tweeted highlights from a couple of reviews on Amazon that I finally downloaded it to the Kindle app on the ipad. Mimi, I should add, is also a journalist.

The dark bags under my eyes which several colleagues remarked on last week have nothing to do with a no-excess-spared Christmas, or chasing after an 18-month-old who has discovered that most wrapped boxes contain a present for her for a fortnight. Or, indeed, long miles travelling to relatives while my wife battled through a stomach bug.

No, those bags are entirely due to the book on the right here. You know when you think you don’t have time to read, then start reading a book when you get chance and then everything else that can be put to one side tends to go that way? This is one of those books.

Set in America, the plot revolves around three journalists: Battle-hardened cynic Sam Waterman who has quit working on a top Washington newspaper to pursue a career, reluctantly, at a politics website; a photographer he once had an affair with which he’s never got over called Tess Benedict who escaped Washington and found a new life in a sleepy Iowa town with a basketball star turned newspaper publisher Jack Westphal. Westphal is, in short, everything Waterman isn’t.

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Introducing ‘Books by journalists’

Ok, so this idea may be a) rubbish, b) pretentious, c) pointless or d) a, b and c combined.

But over Christmas, I spotted a whole deluge of Tweets, articles, Facebook statuses and so on from journalists – or their friends – talking about books they’d published.

Now, we’ve all worked in newsrooms where journalists have felt they’ve got a book in them. The problem, in the past, was that to get the book published was often quite tricky – particularly if doing it around a job in a newsroom.

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