Media managers face a host of challenges – from learning to manage people effectively to struggling with unstable monetization models. A good book might not solve these problems, but it is a great start.
The Fix picked five books (or, more precisely, four books and one chapter) for media managers to better understand how journalism is changing and how to thrive in this changing media sector.
1. “Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now” (Alan Rusbridger)
“When the floodgates opened [with the spread of the internet] – and billions of people also gained access to information [along with journalists] and could publish themselves – journalism struggled to adjust,” writes Alan Rusbridger, a former editor-in-chief of The Guardian who witnessed this shift firsthand.
His book “Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now” combines a memoir drawing on 20 years editing The Guardian – guiding the newspapers through the digital shift and overseeing coverage of Edward Snowden’s disclosures and other major stories – with reflections on the media sector’s revolution and how publishers can make the best of it.
Publication date: December 31, 2019
Where to get: Amazon
Price: €14 print, €13 digital
More from The Fix: Weekly Digest: Making Money
2. “Economic Contexts of Journalism” (Rasmus Kleis Nielsen)
This one’s actually a chapter in the “The Handbook of Journalism Studies” book. In the 17-page article, researcher and Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism Rasmus Kleis Nielsen looks into the changing economic landscape of the news industry.
Nielsen provides a framework of how the economic model of journalism has changed since the 19th century. His model considers:
- a broader shift to the for-profit model in the 20th century, when newspapers’ dominance over advertising made them virtually money-making machines
- the arrival of the digital age, when this dominance was captured by the platforms, with news media forced to pivot to the paywall model rather than relying on advertising.
Nielsen also outlines the questions the sector is still grappling with, including successful models of media advertising in the digital world and case studies outside of the developed world.
Publication date: June 25, 2019
Price: €100 print and €90 digital for the full book; free for the draft chapter
3. “Community-Powered Journalism: A Manual for Growth and Sustainability in Independent News” (Mark L. Hunter and Kevin Davis)
As independent media has been struggling in recent years under the weight of technological change, community building has become one of the most powerful vehicles of growth.
In their book “Community-Powered Journalism: A Manual for Growth and Sustainability in Independent News”, media experts and Stockholm School of Economics in Riga lecturers Kevin Davis and Mark Lee Hunter offer a roadmap for independent news outlets to build deeper relationships with customers, working with the communities the publishers serve.
The book combines a theoretical vision with extensive practical insights and advice, such as improving subscriber retention or building third-party revenue streams. “It’s the kind of book where you can read a bit and immediately start implementing,” writes Jakub Parusinski for The Fix.
Publication date: November 25, 2020
Where to get it: Community Powered Journalism
Price: €26 print, €10 digital
4. “Newsmakers: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Journalism” (Francesco Marconi)
Will artificial intelligence push journalists out of their jobs? Not quite, journalist and entrepreneur Francesco Marconi thinks. “AI can augment – not automate – the industry, allowing journalists to break more news more quickly while simultaneously freeing up their time for deeper analysis,” Marconi writes.
The message is hopeful, but newsrooms have a lot of work to do to make this vision a reality. Marconi provides case studies and practical guidance on how journalists can integrate artificial intelligence in their day-to-day work.
“Newsmakers is helpful in demystifying the fears that most journalists across the globe have expressed regarding the proliferation of advanced technologies”, reviewer Gregory Gondwe notes.
Publication date: April 7, 2020
Where to get it: Amazon
Price: €29 print, €11 digital
More from The Fix: The next disruption: AI and Machine Learning in emerging market newsrooms
5. “Thinking in Systems: A Primer” (Donella H. Meadows)
Although not addressed specifically to media managers, this book is a useful guide in structuring systems and learning more about organisational design and management from a leading expert in systems science.
As the author noted while writing the book over two decades ago, “as our world continues to change rapidly and become more complex, systems thinking will help us manage, adapt, and see the wide range of choices we have before us.”
Problems we are facing, even the most global ones, are system failures that can’t be fixed in isolation but rather should be taken in concert with each other – that certainly sounds like it’s talking (among others) about the media.
Publication date: December 3, 2008
Where to get it: Amazon
Price: €6 print, €12 digital