Novelist throws the book at journalists

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Val McDermid is undoubtedly one of the best crime writers in this country. Here’s the award-winning writer talking about her new book A Place of Execution, giving us an insight on why she gave up on journalism, and admitting ‘The book doesn’t portray journalists in a very positive way.”

She says this about Fleet Street: ‘The world of national newspapers is particularly tough and cutthroat. You get a certain level of cooperation among daily newspaper journalists, but when you’re talking about looking for those exclusives, and particularly for Sunday newspapers, the story is what counts. There wasn’t a great deal of compassion in the trade of journalism as practised when I was doing it.”

Asked whether she herself was cutthroat, she says: ‘I had to be. One reason why I left journalism was I realised there are two ways to go. You either become completely callous and shut off from the emotions of the people you’re dealing with, or you invest in them, and either way is not a particularly emotionally healthy route to go down.

‘To be perfectly blunt, I looked around in my early 30s at my colleagues on my paper and other papers, and I thought: ‘I don’t want to be you when I’m 50. I have friends who are journalists,  and there are decent, honourable journalists around, but even the decent, honourable ones will push the envelope when it’s the difference between getting the story and not.”

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