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Letters to a Young Journalist

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  195 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Over the course of a thirty-year career, Samuel Freedman has excelled both at doing journalism and teaching it, and he passionately engages both of these endeavors in the pages of this book. As an author and journalist, Freedman has produced award-winning books, investigative series, opinion columns, and feature stories and has become a specialist in a wide variety of fiel ...more
Paperback, 195 pages
Published November 8th 2011 by Basic Books (first published 2006)
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May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
There will be disappointments enough over the course of your career; your initial idealism must be a pilot light, flickering at times, but never extinguished.

Almost two years into my journalism career, I find myself struggling more than ever with overwhelming self-doubt and a crippling sense of inadequacy. I love my job, and I know I've done good work, but on most days I am gripped by fears of being found out - of my colleagues realizing I'm a failure, of my bosses realizing I'm a fraud.

I'm gl
Dani Kass
Apr 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
I regret ever going near this book. Freedman is condescending, self-pitying and incredibly pretentious in every line. He over uses examples and fails to supply the relevance of half of them. And most significantly, I learned absolutely nothing new about journalism.
Nov 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fabiola Carletti
Samuel G. Freedman’s sage if sentimental book Letters to a Young Journalist is a meditation on what it takes and what it means to be a journalist.

His intention is not to provide the “specific, situational guidance” of a gifted editor, but rather to discuss the habits of mind, the work ethic and the moral ethos necessary for journalistic excellence.

Those looking for a practical how-to guide should look elsewhere. As suggested by the title, the book reads like a series of letters from an old hand
Carla Jean
It's funny to reread this book four years later and realize how much has already changed in journalism the short time since its publication. Freedman makes no mention of social media, because Facebook was still newish and Twitter was just about to launch. He uses the old AP style convention "Web site" instead of the updated "website." (Though I love AP style, I may never understand the motivation behind "Web site.")

But his advice and motivation have outlasted these few changes, and I'm sure will
Mar 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are at all interested in journalism, I recommend this book. Freedman focuses on journalism as an act (interviewing, writing, editing) not as a profession (he left out details of the boring assignments, poor pay, and rejection letters). His use of specific journalists and their work as examples conveys his meaning clearly. Siting his own numerous mistakes as well -- he's been in the business since it was dictating your story over the phone and typewriters, to small world, high speed intern ...more
Mar 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Freedman's Letters to a Young Journalist may seem slightly outdated, having written right before the social media boom. But the anecdotes and advices he shares in this insightful book is no less but still applicable to any budding journalist out there who's just stepping into the industry. Freedman's narrative is easy to follow and is very guiding, like how a mentor would to his student. Though this book is not a guide to journalism is anywhere resembling a textbook, Freedman's wisdom and insigh ...more
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: about-writing, bazin
This is an interesting book; there’s little in the way of the nuts and bolts of Don Campbell’s book, and the insights are often contradictory. He’s a product of his generation, and he, perhaps subconsciously, subscribes to the view of the anointed that permeates modern journalism. And yet he does see through it enough that the advice given here is worth taking. Hard work and honesty may not win the acclaim that comes to walkers of the easy path, but that is the right path to take. Young journali ...more
Aug 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Writers with a lowercase w.
Shelves: non-fiction
One of the better books I have read in recent memory, not despite the humbling smash to the face, but because of it. Freedman puts a lot into perspective using a matter of fact tone that makes this reader thrilled with apprehension to enter the field of journalism. Even now, I find it difficult to type with steady hands, fearful that prose too purple might infect my keyboard. He has made such sense of this under appreciated calling that I almost feel as if I owe it to him to succeed more than I ...more
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book I ever borrowed from the library, then loved so much I hunted it down in stores, and when I couldn't find it, proceeded to buy from Book Depository. There are some loves you return to time and again, and journalism is at the top of my list. This book is optimistic but not naive, sobering but not cynical, and provides me equal amounts of idealism and realism to continue pursuing this career choice with astounding awareness about the nature of the industry and my motivation ...more
Jul 14, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Idealistic without being naive, Freedman's book is often corny, but just as often enlightening and/or encouraging. With thirty years of experience in the field under his belt, he imparts his acquired wisdom largely through anecdotes. It's an esoteric subject with limited interest, I'm sure, but should you be a young journalist it's a quick read so you might as well. There is some knowledge to be gained...
I read this a year in late 2006 and I wish I'd had this to read twenty years ago. I gave my copy to my brother, a metro reporter, and highly recommend it to all people just starting out in their careers -- or who are considering a career in the field. Samuel Freedman's Letters to a Young Journalist is to journalism in the same way One L is to the practice of law.
Aaron Lozano
Jul 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was a really fun an interesting read for a non-journalist. A cynical book with an optimistic ending, great fodder for debates, and interestig facts and opinions all throughout.
As journalism sermons go, this is a pretty good sermon and I am making it required reading this term. Freedman has the right values and doesn't cut them to fit current business models.
Dec 18, 2014 rated it did not like it
Outdated. Arrogant. Self-important. Bloated. Useless.
Jonathan Keilholz
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit loquacious at times with gabby stories, but still inspires and educates young journalists in a powerfully unconventional way.
James Broadfoot
Nov 30, 2016 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
I had to return this to the library, I didn't finish it because I didn't have time to read it
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Samuel G. Freedman is a columnist for The New York Times and a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of seven acclaimed books, most recently "Breaking The Line," and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

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