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23Nov

News and How to Use It by Alan Rusbridger review – an insider's appeal to sceptics

The former Guardian editor’s insights into journalism and how it must regain the public’s trust are perceptive and reflect a chaotic and messy business

“Mummy, what is that man for?” was the question famously asked by a young girl at a rally addressed (at great length) by Gladstone. An analogous question occurred to me as I opened this book by the former editor-in-chief of the Guardian: what is this book for? Also: what is it, exactly?

The title suggests that it’s a user’s guide to news. But, in fact, it’s nothing like that. Instead, it’s a compendium of jottings and mini-essays organised alphabetically from A (for Accuracy) to Z (Zoomers). The motivation for writing it was Alan Rusbridger’s concern at the decline in trust in news organisations during the pandemic. Four years on from being full-time in the newsroom, he writes, he wanted to bring “an insider’s perspective to the business of journalism, but also to look at it from the outside. [Rusbridger is now head of an Oxford college.] How can we explain ‘journalism’ to people who are by and large sceptical – which is broadly what most of us would want our fellow citizens to be?”

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