An exclusive, ongoing RRJ series featuring leading Canadian journalists and their top picks for pieces every journalist “must read,” “must watch” and “must listen” to before they die.
TODAY: Feature writer and editor Jason McBride
Jason McBride currently works as a freelance writer and editor in Toronto. He is a former editor at Toronto Life magazine and Coach House books, and his work has appeared in the National Post, CBC.ca, and The Globe and Mail. He recently became a senior editor of Toronto Standard, a new online news site that focuses on city life, urban affairs, culture and design.
Janet Malcom: The Journalist and The Murderer (1990)
Required reading, of course, for every journalist, but also for every wary subject who's sat before a digital recorder. If you've read it once, read it again; its lessons bear constant repetition. While The New Yorker has obviously produced, nurtured and harboured some of the greatest magazine reporters of the last century--my personal pantheon includes Mitchell, Liebling, McPhee, Orlean, Friend--Malcolm might still be my favourite.
Spy magazine, Nest magazine
Spy--without which, there would be no Vanity Fair (as we now know it), New York (as we now know it), The Awl (as we now know it) or Toronto Life (as we now know it). Thankfully, for those of you who, like me, missed it the first time around, Google has digitized every issue of the magazine and made them available for free. Nest is the even-more missed shelter magazine whose remarkable, eccentric design (one issue cut into a trapezoid, another entirely plaid-themed) was matched only by the singular contributors (John Waters, Eileen Myles, Amy Sedaris et al.) literary editor Matthew Stadler summoned each month. You'll have to take out a second mortgage now to buy a complete set on eBay.
Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide : edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call
I never studied journalism. What little I know about the profession I've learned through trial-and-error, the patient guidance of certain editors, and books like this one. It overflows with unbelievably useful advice: how to conduct interviews, organizing your notes, making a living as a freelancer, etc. Those offering the advice are the titans of the field: among others, Tracy Kidder, Gay Talese, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc--whose section is helpfully titled "(Narrative) J School for People Who Never Went."