Book Review: Little Bunch of Madmen – Elements of Global Reporting

I got a copy of Little Bunch of Madmen to review for the Frontline Club amongst others on the 1st of October but have since found myself reading, and unable to put it down. It is quite compelling and ever so useful. It has since accompanied me everywhere and has become an indispensable part of my handbag contents.

The book is full of standalone gems such as:

“For most stories, good sources willing to talk are all over the place. You simply have to find them. Then shut up and listen. This takes resisting the temptation to play with out wondrous toys.”

“Serious journalism is measured by depth and consistency over time.”

The challenge of journalism he writes is:

“…to get it right within a context of history and humanity. The rest is only process”

The book is comprised of 18 chapters such as “Vietraqistan” and the all essential “Road Kit” and “Staying Alive”.

The author, Mort Rosenblum, is a seasoned journalist who has seen and reported from his fair share of conflicts. His passion for the field is clear in his writing. Towards the end of the book there is a chapter on “Readings for the Road” which encourages journalists to study history of the places and conflicts as well as history of journalism. Then there is a small appendix for the busy journalist  simply called  “Mort’s Rules” and consists of seven rules of global reporting each followed by a brief description. They are both concise and insightful:

1.      See it for yourself.

2.      Find your fixer.

3.      Think particular, not general.

4.      To be lucky, be where luck happens.

5.      Check back, keep at it.

6.      Take names; write down numbers.

7.      Show interest.

He follows this appendix with another generous six pages of other resources in the form of books and websites. The book is written in an accessible, direct rational manner but yet has enough anecdotes to bring it to life and a little sprinkle of humour. Whether reporting from Somalia or any other place, I for one will be referring to this book for a long, long time to come and would highly recommend it for any serious journalists, old or new.

Mort Rosenblum will be at the Frontline Club Tuesday 23rd November at 7pm. The event is in association with the BBC College of Journalism. Book here.