The Online Journalism Handbook reviewed by Sallyanne Duncan in the Journal of the Association for Journalism Education:

In the process of setting up a Master’s degree in Digital Journalism this year I faced the daunting task of finding suitable reference materials for this new course. It’s a tricky exercise to select the right key texts that will meet the needs of bright graduate students who come from diverse disciplines and who have mixed experiences of  journalism.

A fine balance needs to be struck between recommending a book which challenges their intellect but does not assume they are all digital natives who only need to polish their inherent skills.Equally, students tend to expect something which goes beyond the basic skills-based manual which often fails to engage them in current debates.

Paul Bradshaw and Liisa Rohumaa’s book The Online Journalism Handbook: Skills to Surviveand Thrive in the Digital Age certainly does not fall into the latter category. This is a fine, nuanced resource, particularly for those with limited knowledge but who are keen to extend their understanding of not only their skills but also the context of digital journalism. For example, the first two chapters on the history and technology of online journalism are comprehensive scene-setters,written in an informative, concise and pacy style.

When I received it I was immediately struck by the look of the book, the manner in which data is broken into manageable chunks and the quality of the colour plates. I was also surprised by how compact it is – I expected a much larger tome – particularly when I examined the comprehensive contents. The authors pack in a great deal of material in only 203 pages. There are chapters on writing for the web, data journalism, blogging, audio, video, interactivity, user generated content,and the law. It is also written with a touch of levity on occasion, which assists in putting over complex issues and building the confidence of the reader, perfect for students who are all too aware of their lecturers’ expectations that because they are young they will know all about this online stuff.Throughout, Bradshaw and Rohumaa debunk myths about the internet by writing in an accessible, intelligent, clear style without any unnecessary techno-babble. The chapters are split into logical sections which gives the reader the opportunity to master one particular form of online activity before moving on to the next rather than confronting them with several platforms at a time. The colour plates are superb and it would be useful if these were available as slides (or other suitable format) so they could be projected on to a screen for use in class.That said, there could be more on how journalists use online tools, social media and the invisible web to research routine news and features as opposed to data journalism which is dealt with extensively in Chapter 5.There is a useful chapter on the law and online communication, saving the reader from having to search out relevant legal texts. This chapter looks at the usual suspects of freedom of expression, privacy, defamation, contempt of court and copyright but through the lens of convergence.

Numerous examples support the discussion through ‘closer look’ sections on specific legislation,approaches to stories, and the efficacy of using terms and conditions.

Overall, The Online Journalism Handbook is a valuable guide for the reader who wants to extend their knowledge of digital journalism, and one that should be recommended reading on every university journalism course. It certainly tops our reading list.

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