The 10 Best Journalism Books

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This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in February of 2018. Whether you're an avid news reader with a desire to know more about the workings of the business, or you are an aspiring reporter who wants a leg up on the competition, the journalism books on our list have a lot to offer. They include stories from the past, techniques to make you a better writer, important rules to follow, and conversations with some renowned writers of our time. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. The Elements of Journalism

2. The Associated Press Stylebook

3. The Mammoth Book of Journalism

Editor's Notes

March 16, 2020:

My earliest memory of training for a career in journalism is of my high school teacher Sister Jeremiah quoting Joe Friday from “Dragnet” with his commonly used, “All we want are the facts, ma’am.” She also made sure we students were well familiar with the inverted pyramid model, in which we inserted the most important details of a news story into the first paragraph – ensuring any busy subway rider could learn all the important details up front and move to the next story, if so desired. These days, journalism is unrecognizable from what it was back then, in many respects. As such, it’s important for any aspiring reporter -- as well as seasoned veterans -- to read up on the history of the profession and all the important ways it’s evolving today, not to mention the current standards and rules of the trade.

Although we already had the Associated Press’s informative Guide to News Writing on our list, in this update we felt it was important to add The Associated Press Stylebook, which is referred to daily by countless journalists. The latter is more of a hands-on resource, and its dictionary-style A to Z layout makes it quick and easy to find out about any term or topic at hand. This guide is updated annually, and all of the major changes are conveniently outlined toward the start. We linked to the spiral-bound copy; while a standard-bound copy is also available, the spiral binding makes it so much easier to keep it open flat on your desk as you type.

We also felt it was important to add a copy editing book to the selection, as many a reporter sooner or later may be tasked with editing the work of others. There is a much smaller selection of editing books available than books on writing, but you’ll appreciate The Subversive Copy Editor, which is an easy read with both strategies and support for keeping everyone happy with the changes you make: your writer and managing editor, as well as your readers.

To make room for these highly relevant books, we removed The New York Times: Complete Civil War 1861-1865 and The New New Journalism. While it didn’t make our list, anyone who wants to become a better writer would benefit from the renowned “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White, which is as entertaining for many as it is thorough in explaining proper grammar and usage rules. My dog-eared copy with yellowed pages is always within reach.

4. The Investigative Reporter's Handbook

5. The Subversive Copy Editor

6. Guide to News Writing

7. Beyond News: The Future of Journalism

8. Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism

9. All the President's Men

10. The Best American Sports Writing

Karen Bennett
Last updated by Karen Bennett

Karen Bennett lives in Chicago with her family, and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found practicing yoga or cheering on her kids at soccer games. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and a bachelor’s in English, and her writing has been published in various local newspapers, as well as “The Cheat Sheet,” “Illinois Legal Times,” and “USA Today.” She has also written search engine news page headlines and worked as a product manager for a digital marketing company. Her expertise is in literature, nonfiction, textbooks, home products, kids' games and toys, hardware, teaching accessories, and art materials.

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