on 14 September 2013
I really looked forward to reading this but on doing so found it to be a major disappointment. The subtitle is 'Newspapers, journalism and the business of news in the digital age' - well, the first 70 pages are irrelevant to that. A very nicely written history of the press, which is quite impressive but containing little new, little in way of new thinking and not really the link to the digital age that the author was aiming for. It is true that the long decline of newspaper circulation began in the late '50s but Brock doesn't provide enough on the reasons for this and misses some key points.
Brock really should have used his skills as an editor on the rest because it is a bit of a mish-mash of (admittedly interesting) material which gets quite boring with its style - on the one hand surveys say this but on the other... There are some good parts but they tend to get lost in the statistics and the tendency to write small sections, rather like lists. It is a collection of material rather than in-depth research. It lacks a cohesive argument and really doesn't do enough on the business side and fails to put this into the context of the wider economic system at play at particular times. A missed opportunity.
* Interesting and rather absurd 'Publisher's Note' in the book.
on 16 October 2013
This book barrels through the rumbustious origins of journalism, and peers into its murky future. In doing so, it does a great job of sketching out the forces - economic, social, political - that pushed and pulled the 'legacy media' into the shape they took in the last century. In an industry where too often journalists are curious about everything except the nature of their own business, Brock goes a long way to joining up the dots. And in doing so he equips the reader rather better to look to the future of the industry, in long sections where he ponders what might or might not work in terms of new platforms and funding models for worthwhile journalism.
Brisk and engaging, it's interesting for the general reader but for anyone working in the modern media, it's rather more - a valuable handbook and guide to our uncertain futures.
on 5 October 2013
As a general consumer and observer of the news media I found this book very informative and enjoyable. The historical introduction brings out how unusual the newspapers with which those of us in the UK and US grew up were. The author then discusses how newspapers have tried to respond to the loss of much of the advertising market before turning to new ways of doing journalism using the web. He has assembled an impressive corpus of examples from across the world, but so far many are still at an experimental stage. The writing throughout is clear and energetic. the examples often colourful and the judgements measured. It will fascinating to go back and re-read the book in 20 years' time.