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I’ve just finished reading this book – I’ve featured the paperback version, which comes out in a month’s time, on the right, because that’s much cheaper than the hardback edition which is currently available. Anyway, on with the review…
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It certainly provides what it promises to (“A Short History of British Journalism”), but Marr manages to deliver this with humour and panache. He mixes in lots of his own anecdotes – some longer and more developed than others, but all entertaining – and passes judgement on developments in the media world, as well as informing us that they occurred. It’s certainly a very personal history for Marr, and that helps to involve the reader much more than the normal style of books written by journalists, which tend to read something like extended newspaper features.
Anybody remotely interested in British journalism would be well advised to read a copy of this book – which certainly is no chore – as it provides much background on how newspapers are put together, and how this has changed over the years. It even provides some history on the rivalries between newspapers, looking at (as an example) how The Mirror‘s sales declined at the hands of The Sun, and how Marr’s own Indy set out to be different from everyone else.
This is not intended to be – and nor is it – a detailed history of the development of the British media. Instead, it’s an enjoyable romp through the subject, stopping off at points of interest – particularly recent ones, and many of which you’d have thought he may have liked to avoid. He goes into some detail about Hutton and the problem with modern journalism, making convincing arguments for his point of view – which is, in part, critical of the BBC which pays him. It’s very clear from his writing that he’s experienced as a journalist, not just because he lists his many and varied jobs, but also because of the detailed insight he is able to deliver, and the apparent wisdom of some of his comments.
Certainly, this is a very easy-going enjoyable read, from a political editor who comes across as an affable kind of chap, and a book which I must highly recommend.