Analysis: Media reads for summer

From war reporting, to celebrity tittle-tattle, to the intrigues of Westminster: the best books on making the news
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The Independent Online

BBC paragon Kate Adie OBE has filed reports in camouflage, from an armoured car and with shells landing close by. With a reputation for being unflappable in the face of such painful and hazardous events as the massacre at Tiananmen Square and the Northern Ireland conflict, she appears a very tough character. It's a pleasant surprise to read of her Sunderland childhood, her witty account of the foibles of Royal tours, the absurdities that can occur when studios disintegrate and camera crews have to operate naked, and what it feels like to be a woman working in a male-dominated world.

Chris Ayres
War Reporting for Cowards

As The Times' West Coast correspondent, Chris Ayres gossiped and air-kissed his way around LA, churning out positive showbiz news. At the age of 26 he is suddenly posted to Iraq and embedded with US Marines, a reluctant war correspondent reporting from an unpredictable battlefield. But instead of blending into the sandstorms, Ayres' rookie fear and unique observations make a memorable new voice, and he ends up with a 'Foreign Correspondent of the Year' nomination. The book also covers other parts of his career - he only managed 9 days on the ground in Iraq - and his coverage of 9/11 is a highlight.

Georgina Born
Uncertain Vision

A unique and fascinating portrait of the BBC, based on the most extensive independent research ever conducted inside the corporation. It concentrates on the last years of former director-general John Birt and offers a panorama of the BBC's history and an intimate portrait of the people that make it up. We see at close hand, for example, the huge efforts required to bring major drama series to screen and the frantic preparation to assemble an edition of Newsnight. Uncertain Vision also addresses the tumultuous recent events at the BBC and looks to the new challenges of satellite and digital broadcasting.

Michael Buerk
The Road Taken

Michael Buerk's reports from Ethiopia in 1984 horrified the world and led to the launch of a massive aid programme, including Band Aid and Comic Relief. Buerk also reported from Lockerbie, from Buenos Aires at the declaration of the Falklands War and from South Africa as apartheid finally collapsed. The Road Taken is the story of Buerk's career, from being shouted down by a drunk while on his first job, to interviewing Margaret Thatcher and broadcasting from around the world. He also frankly discusses his private life and his friendships with colleagues in the world of broadcasting.

Richard Eyre
The Club

After a thirty-year career in the media business, including spells in the top jobs at ITV, Capital Radio and Pearson TV, Eyre stepped outside the corporate bubble and wrote The Club, a novel about a failing TV production company. Aggressive rivals, government interference and heated boardroom antics all contribute to Acrobat Television's falling share prices while chief executive Charlie Burrows battles to save the company. You want to believe you're reading Eyre's first-hand experiences thinly disguised as fiction, and he is convincing. You may think twice about pursuing success in television.

Fergal Keane
All of These People: A Memoir

Keane is a distinguished BBC correspondent who has filed reports from Northern Ireland, South Africa, Asia and the Balkans and shares his stories in this memoir. He writes unflinchingly about strife and conflict abroad, in his native Ireland and in his personal life. He writes engagingly about the work of a war reporter, the discomfort of lodging in shelters and bombsites and filing urgent reports with the sound of gunfire in the background. One of the most candid aspects of the book is the re-telling of Keane's difficulties with alcoholism, which affected his father before him.

Richard Lindley
And Finally...? The News From ITN

The story of ITN's 50-year history is the story of tele- vision news, from an early remit to provide just 20 minutes of news coverage a day to the 24-hour news revolution with which ITN has been intimately involved. Featuring the big names of news broadcasting such as Robin Day, Alastair Burnet, Trevor MacDonald and Jon Snow, Richard Lindley tells a story of clashing egos as ITN reporters fight their competitors at the BBC and the wavering financial commitment of ITV and each other to establish a pioneering news provider.

John Lloyd
What the Media Do to Our Politics

Nothing more grimly highlights the terrible state of relations between press and Government than the Hutton inquiry. Indeed, as Lloyd argues, the media no longer function as an inquiring check on the political class, but have become an alternative establishment, dedicated to a theatrical distrust of politicians and a calculated indifference to the real-life intricacies of policy-making. He believes the media elite, and the growing emphasis on profit in the companies for which they work, have created an idol that takes as its sacrifice justice and balance, and deprives the public of the information they need.

Piers Morgan
The Insider

Popular culture is obsessed with celebrity, so perhaps it wass inevitable that this book was published as Morgan crossed from editorship to the kind of TV personality that his ex-comrades so delight in exposing. There are lots of fascinating glimpses of how journalism works and the complex relationship between the press and public figures is managed. Morgan is a veteran of battles between celebrities and those who celebrate them, and the struggle between pressmen and politicians to suppress, spin or leak information, and you couldn't wish for a more scintillating settling of bitter scores.

John Simpson
The Wars Against Saddam

Few people are more qualified than Simpson to offer an overview of the two Gulf wars. He has a knack for getting into the world's trouble spots and is committed to telling the truth. This book describes the roots of the present conflict, including Saddam Hussein's rise to power, his ambiguous relationship with the West and the manner in which his career and country have been manipulated to serve US and British interests in the Middle East. A timely and sobering glimpse of global politics, which should be required reading for all politicians and anyone with an interest in the most recent military history.

Jon Snow
Shooting History: A Personal Journey

Snow has been reporting news for 30 years, mostly as an ITN foreign correspondent, beaming back pictures from war zones in South and Central America, Africa, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Washington. Witty and engaging, Snow seems comfortable discussing mistakes he has made and conflicts he feels guilty to have neglected. It's clear that he sees himself as a currently static foreign correspondent and easy to see why he believes reporting from the field to be the way journalists can make a real difference. Shooting History is a riveting memoir and an excellent read for anyone interested in current affairs.

Ted White
Broadcast News

Ted White has been a broadcast journalist since starting his career as a copy boy for The Voice of America. Along with complete coverage of the fundamentals this text presents actual scripts and interviews with the people who bring us the news. The book emphasizes real-life situations and examines the problems that reporters, writers, assignment editors and producers face every day. This new edition contains material on embedded journalists and their impact on the news, and new examples of tabloid journalism, the state of terrorism and crime reporting today.

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