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19 free ebooks on journalism (for your Xmas Kindle)

As many readers of this blog will have received a Kindle for Christmas I thought I should share my list of the free ebooks that I recommend stocking up on.

Online journalism and community management

Starting with more general books, Mark Briggs‘s book Journalism 2.0 (PDF) is now 4 years old but still provides a good overview of online journalism to have by your side. Mindy McAdams‘s 42-page Reporter’s Guide to Multimedia Proficiency (PDF) adds some more on that front, and The Society of Professional Journalists‘s Digital Media Handbook Part 1 (PDF) and Part 2 provide a pot-pourri of extra bits and pieces including computer assisted reporting (CAR).

For more on CAR, the first edition of Philip Meyer‘s classic The New Precision Journalism is also available in full online, although you’ll have to download each chapter in Word format and email it to your Kindle for conversion. It’s worth it: 20 years on his advice is still excellent.

On community management, Jono Bacon‘s The Art of Community (PDF), comes in at over 360 pages. It’s a thorough exploration – told largely through his own experiences – of an area that too few journalists understand. A useful complement to this is Yochai Benkler‘s landmark book on how networked individuals operate, The Wealth of Networks, which is available to download in full or part online from his page at Harvard University’s Berkman Center.

Staying savvy in the information war 

If you’re reporting on health issues – or ever expect to deal with a press release from a health company – Testing Treatments (PDF) is well worth a read, providing an insight into how medicines and treatments are tested, and popular misconceptions to avoid. It’s littered with examples from reporting on health in the media, and well written. And if you need persuading why you should care, read this post (all of it) by Dr Petra Boynton on what happens when journalists fail to scrutinise press releases from health companies. It’s also free to download, so what’s your excuse?

And also on the subject of keeping your wits about you, Dan Gillmor‘s latest book on media literacy, Mediactive, is published under a Creative Commons licence as a PDF,

Culture, copyright and code

Lawrence Lessig has written quite a few books about law and how it relates to the media when content becomes digitised, as well as code more generally. Most of his work is available online for free download, including The Future of Ideas (PDF), Code 2.0 (PDF), Remix, and Free Culture.

Matt Mason‘s book on how media culture is changed by “pirates” gives you a choice: you can download The Pirate’s Dilemma for whatever price you choose to pay, including nothing.

Investigative Journalism

Mark Lee Hunter has written 2 great free ebooks which strip away the mystique that surrounds investigative journalism and persuades so many journalists that it’s something ‘other people do’.

The first, Story-Based Inquiry (PDF), is an extremely useful guide to organising and focusing an investigation, demonstrating that investigative journalism is more about being systematic than about meeting strangers in underground car parks.

The second, The Global Casebook (PDF), is brilliant: a collection of investigative journalism – but with added commentary by each journalist explaining their methods and techniques. Where Story-Based Inquiry provides an over-arching framework; The Global Casebook demonstrates how different approaches can work for different stories and contexts.

For more tips on investigative journalism the Investigative Journalism Manual (you’ll have to download each chapter separately) provides guidance from an African perspective which still applies whatever country you practise journalism.

And if you’re particularly interested in corruption you may also want to download Paul Radu‘s 50-page ebook Follow The Money: A Digital Guide for Tracking Corruption (PDF).

Related subjects: design, programming

That’s 17 books but if you want to explore design or programming there are dozens more out there. In particular, How to Think Like a Computer Scientist is a HTML ebook, but the Kindle deals with HTML pages too. Also in HTML is Digital Foundations: Introduction to Media Design (h/t Jon Hickman).

Have I missed anything?

Those are just the books that spring to mind or that I’ve previously bookmarked. Are there others I’ve missed?

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