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My Trade: A Short History of British Journalism [Paperback]

Andrew Marr
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 July 2005

How do you decide what is a 'story' and what isn't? What does a newspaper editor actually do all day? How do hacks get their scoops? How do the TV stations choose their news bulletins? How do you persuade people to say those awful, embarassing things? Who earns what? How do journalists manage to look in the mirror after the way they sometimes behave?

The purpose of this insider's account is to provide an answer to all these questions and more. Andrew Marr's brilliant, and brilliantly funny, book is a guide to those of us who read newspapers, or who listen to and watch news bulletins but want to know more. Andrew Marr tells the story of modern journalism through his own experience.

This is an extremely readable and utterly unique modern social history of British journalism, with all its odd glamour, smashed hopes and future possibility.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 430 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; New Ed edition (1 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330411926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330411929
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Andrew Marr was born in Glasgow in 1959. He studied English at the University of Cambridge and has since enjoyed a long career in political journalism, working for the Scotsman, the Independent, the Daily Express and the Observer. From 2000 to 2005 he was the BBC's Political Editor. He has written and presented TV documentaries on history, science and politics, and presents the weekly Andrew Marr Show on Sunday mornings on BBC1 and Start the Week on Radio 4. Andrew lives in London with his family.

Product Description

About the Author

Andrew Marr was born in Glasgow. He graduated from Cambridge University and has enjoyed a long career in political journalism, working for the Scotsman, the Independent , the Economist, the Express , and the Observer before being appointed as the BBC's political editor in May 2000. He is also the presenter of Start the Week. Andrew Marr's broadcasting includes series on contemporary thinkers for BBC 2 and Radio 4, and political documentaries for Channel 4 and BBC Panorama. He has had major prizes from the British Press Awards, the Royal Television Society and Bafta, among others. He lives in London.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
92 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most readable history of journalism in print 20 Sep 2004
Andrew Marr has achieved something that is oddly rare - he has written an entertaining history of journalism. I say "oddly rare" because you would think that journalists - people who write for a living - would write interesting books about their trade. The truth is that they can be weighed down with endless stories involving names that no one has heard of and another opportunity gets missed. Marr's book is very refreshing - he is certainly not above self-criticism and most importantly, the book does what all the best books of its kind do - it imparts a lot of information without you realising it.
The book is funny, informative, opinionated and most of all a fine read (which is more than can be said for some of our national press these days).
Buy it.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 11 Aug 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a detailed, informed, sceptical and sometimes very funny account of British journalism, from its 17th century origins to the present day. Marr, who is the BBC's political correspondent and used to edit The Independent, has had a varied journalistic career and, in carefully planned chapters, offers excellent insights into such questions as what editors do, the underlying truths and untruths of political journalism, the way papers and our perceptions of news have changed down the years, the personalities of journalists, the roles of columnists and specialist correspondents, broadcast news and its politics and spirit, plus much more. Along the way we meet a range of memorable characters from Daniel Defoe to Kelvin MacKenzie of The Sun, and from Rupert Murdoch to the Dimbleby clan. Marr sheds some really valuable light on the nature of British media, and this feels above all like a truthful account as well as a detailed and enjoyable one. This book is indispensable for journalists and would-be journalists, and for anyone interested in the news and how it gets made.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Step behind the scenes of journalism 28 Jan 2005
If you are a journalist, a wannabe journalist or just interested in current affairs then this book will make a fascinating read for you. It can be dipped into , although I have read it cover to cover, to find remarkable insights into the "fourth estate" past and present.
And he doesn't limit himself just to facts - conclusions and judgements about his own trade are made very honestly. And his (sometimes hilarious) anecdotes about what happens behind the scenes make compelling reading.
I find Marr (the BBC's Political Editor) intriguing and he is one of the few people on television who is consistently worth listening to . He clearly has an amazing network and knowledge which lead to a very high standard of journalism. He has kept that up with this tome.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
This is a jewel of a book by someone who has inside knowledge of politics over the last two decades but has the capacity to stand back and analyse the influence of the media in our thinking - does the media lead and the reading public follow? or do the public set the agenda for the media? The answer, according to Andrew Marr, is that both are true. Two clear messages for me showed why the 'Today' programme has to be as it is although I am part of the one-third of the population who turn it off in fury or ring the BBC to complain, and I need to get out more (around the world) to have a greater understanding of international issues rather than settling for the comfort zone that much of life in the UK has become. I have bored everyone I have met in the last 3 weeks about the importance of the insights in this book.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Behind the scenes look at journalism 16 Dec 2005
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The work of journalists, perhaps moreso than that of other professions, is often viewed in a stereotypical light. Andrew Marr's book however sweeps away much of the romance and glamour in favour of a down to earth this-is-how-it-is approach. He is well suited to the task, having moved through many of the important stages in the print and broadcast hierarchy over the course of his career.
Although the book is billed as a "short history of British journalism", most of the book is taken up with impressively detailed accounts of what a journalist does, how they do it, and why, addressing also issues of personal motivation, bias, editorial influence, government pressure... The historical section in fact only ends up occupying one chapter of this fairly dense book. Whilst it is undoubtedly fascinating, Marr is not a historian and a lot of the substance and cohesion you would expect from a historical essay is lacking; that said however it takes up only about 15% of the book and does provide valuable context for the rest of his narrative.
The main body of the book gives a blow by blow account of the various roles which newspaper (mainly broadsheet) journalists play, right from the commanding national editor down to the latest teenage provincial apprentice. He recounts a range of issues which the layman might not think about too often: What makes a story? What keeps a story alive? What should the balance of stories within a newspaper be? How does the editor decide what to put on the front page? These are then linked in with a more logistical account (based on his period as an editor), explaining how it all gets put together into something printable, how long it takes, what the priorities are for printers.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent book from Mr Marr
Andrew Marr has proved himself to be an excellent writer of popular history, and he succeeds here in making the somewhat esoteric subject of the development of British journalism... Read more
Published 1 month ago by R. H. Yule
5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to the trade, but mostly newpapers
I picked this book up as a soon-to-be journalist hoping to get an inside look at my future trade from one of its heavyweights, and I was not disappointed. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sam Wilkin
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Book!
This is a thoroughly enjoyable personal history of journalism, written by the then BBC Political Editor, and former editor of the Independent, Andrew Marr. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dr. Simon Howard
4.0 out of 5 stars journalism
Interesting to have an inside explanation as to the games of politics that cost the workers (producers) so much to receive such poor governance.
Published 6 months ago by David Dean
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous reading
This book sets up a scene of where journalism has come from and where it is going. From one of the BBC greats whose humility comes across from the beginning, this book is perfect... Read more
Published 11 months ago by I. MAKULOLUWE
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, Historical, a bit Tedious
My Trade is part history, part autobiography. Marr, who claims he “stumbled onto journalism,” takes readers through British journalism’s past and present, as well as predictions... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Moni Hart
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and entertaining
Wizard stuff comprehensive and profound investigation into modern journalism and its origins a must for those entering the profession or those who seek to understand it
Published 14 months ago by Ship canal stevedore
5.0 out of 5 stars Journalism exposed.
Andrew Marr's book gives an good view of current British journalism especially related to current British politics. Very much enjoyed.
Published 14 months ago by andrea33sh
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Long for a Short History
I don't recognise the descrptions of the lobby correspondents. I took my own action against them when I banned them from 10 Downing Street but they are not mired in sleaze, bed... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Joseph Haines
5.0 out of 5 stars Dizzying read!
Crammed with info and delivered at speed in typical Marr style. Always interesting and with great insight honed over years of experience and obviously good research and knowledge... Read more
Published 16 months ago by marionq
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