Saturday, April 05, 2008

Five best: books about journalism

Roger Mudd, a former correspondent for CBS, NBC, the PBS "NewsHour" and the History Channel, is the author of The Place to Be: Washington, CBS and the Glory Days of Television News.

He selected a list of the five best books about journalism for the Wall Street Journal.

One title on his list:
Reporting From Washington
By Donald A. Ritchie
Oxford, 2005

Not until I read Donald Ritchie's superb book did I learn why Dan Rather and Fred Graham and Bob Schieffer and Marvin Kalb and I had to report while standing in front of the buildings we covered, even in the rain. It was because CBS News management declared that only Walter Cronkite and Eric Sevareid could be filmed indoors and sitting down. This engrossing, finely written book covers the past 75 years of news coverage from the nation's capital. The chapters on the press are rich in detail, but I'm in awe of the account of television, the field I know best. Yet I did not know that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, which underwrote NBC's entire news operation in the late 1940s, would not allow "Camel News Caravan" to show pictures of anyone holding a cigar except Winston Churchill (cigarettes were fine, of course) and that on the desk of the show's anchor, the nonsmoking John Cameron Swayze, was a prominently placed ashtray.

Read about another title on Mudd's list.

--Marshal Zeringue