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Airhead: The Imperfect Art of Making News

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The things that are said on camera are only part of the story. Behind every interview there is a backstory. How it came about. How it ended. The compromises that were made. The regrets, the rows, the deeply inappropriate comedy. Making news is an essential but imperfect art, and it rarely goes according to plan. I never expected to find myself wandering around the Maharani of The things that are said on camera are only part of the story. Behind every interview there is a backstory. How it came about. How it ended. The compromises that were made. The regrets, the rows, the deeply inappropriate comedy. Making news is an essential but imperfect art, and it rarely goes according to plan. I never expected to find myself wandering around the Maharani of Jaipur's bedroom with Bill Clinton or invited to the Miss USA beauty pageant by its owner, Donald Trump. I never expected to be thrown into a provincial Cuban jail, or to be drinking red wine at Steve Bannon's kitchen table or spend three hours in a lift with Alan Partridge. I certainly didn't expect the Dalai Lama to tell me the story of his most memorable poo. The beauty of television is its ability to simplify, but that's also its weakness: it can distil everything down to one snapshot, one soundbite. Then the news cycle moves on.


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The things that are said on camera are only part of the story. Behind every interview there is a backstory. How it came about. How it ended. The compromises that were made. The regrets, the rows, the deeply inappropriate comedy. Making news is an essential but imperfect art, and it rarely goes according to plan. I never expected to find myself wandering around the Maharani of The things that are said on camera are only part of the story. Behind every interview there is a backstory. How it came about. How it ended. The compromises that were made. The regrets, the rows, the deeply inappropriate comedy. Making news is an essential but imperfect art, and it rarely goes according to plan. I never expected to find myself wandering around the Maharani of Jaipur's bedroom with Bill Clinton or invited to the Miss USA beauty pageant by its owner, Donald Trump. I never expected to be thrown into a provincial Cuban jail, or to be drinking red wine at Steve Bannon's kitchen table or spend three hours in a lift with Alan Partridge. I certainly didn't expect the Dalai Lama to tell me the story of his most memorable poo. The beauty of television is its ability to simplify, but that's also its weakness: it can distil everything down to one snapshot, one soundbite. Then the news cycle moves on.

30 review for Airhead: The Imperfect Art of Making News

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Well, clearly Emily Maitliss, presenter of the BBC's flagship Newsnight programme, is no Airhead. but the consummate professional interrogator and interviewer. This is not really an autobiography, and there is little in the way of any meaningful spotlight on her personal and private life. Instead, this is a commentary on the nature of the news business, where so often the best laid plans go awry, looking at our contemporary world with its political and social realities, and the collection of oft Well, clearly Emily Maitliss, presenter of the BBC's flagship Newsnight programme, is no Airhead. but the consummate professional interrogator and interviewer. This is not really an autobiography, and there is little in the way of any meaningful spotlight on her personal and private life. Instead, this is a commentary on the nature of the news business, where so often the best laid plans go awry, looking at our contemporary world with its political and social realities, and the collection of often memorable interviews conducted by the ambitious Maitlis. Written in an easy reading style, there are an array of anecdotes, the back stories, soundbites, and compromises integral to TV news and interviews, giving us a well observed and insightful glimpse, coverage into the behind scenes world that is Maitlis's everyday life. The interviews cover leading global figures, from politics, such as US presidents, the arts, like Emma Thompson, and religion, like the Dalai Lamai, alongside a raft of other celebrities. I can't say that I thought every interview she has conducted has been a success, but there have been some excellent ones. She is confident, hard nosed, skilful, and effective, often witty and humorous, and even compassionate on occasion. This is a light, well written and entertaining read that throws some light on the complex, perceptive and intelligent personality that is Emily Maitless, with brief coverage of her personal troubles with a stalker. Maitlis has since added an additional bow to her stellar career with her recent groundbreaking interview with Prince Andrew that made headlines around the world. I rcommend this to all those who are interested in the world of TV news, portrayed through the life of one of the leading talented BBC news presenters. Many thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Geevee

    Hugely enjoyable, funny and insightful. Airhead is not a biography nor a treatise on television journalism but more, as Emily Maitlis says herself, it's a look at how things happen in her job: how things get planned, go right and help make the headlines - and as equally, how things are unplanned, go wrong and help make the headlines. For those not familiar with Ms Maitlis, she is a BBC News reporter and anchor for BBC Television's flagship news and current affairs programme Newsnight. As a news a Hugely enjoyable, funny and insightful. Airhead is not a biography nor a treatise on television journalism but more, as Emily Maitlis says herself, it's a look at how things happen in her job: how things get planned, go right and help make the headlines - and as equally, how things are unplanned, go wrong and help make the headlines. For those not familiar with Ms Maitlis, she is a BBC News reporter and anchor for BBC Television's flagship news and current affairs programme Newsnight. As a news and politics "junkie" being known to sit up all night and watch UK General and US Presidential elections and stuff like the Brexit referendum, I readily appreciate Ms Maitlis's work, career and professional standing; I also have a soft spot for her as she is very watchable and across her many hours on TV she is quite brilliant, but at times she also exasperates me and makes me furious. In this audio book there's nothing to make the listener furious. There is however a lot to enjoy as we hear of events, plans and efforts by Ms Maitlis and her editors and crews to "get" an interview. Variously, as she openly shows, the order and supposed organisation of television interviewing and journalism is more rushed, chaotic and off-the-cuff. And it this juxtaposition of what one sees or hears broadcast to the less polished and ordered behind-the-scenes stuff that makes this book such an interesting and enjoyable book. Ms Maitlis is a funny - as are some events - and open where she has made a mistake or done something that what was not wanted before or helped during an interview. She is also considered and open in how she thinks her own performance stood or how the interview went or was broadcast and perceived. In Airhead you will hear of her interviews with Donald Trump, Anthony Scaramucci, James Comey to events such as the Grenfell Tower fire, the European migrant march and the Paris terror attacks to Russell Brand (still a massive wanker in my view), Alan Partridge (A-ha), Emma Thompson and an interview with a Chippendale (dancer not furniture). As Pandora Sykes wrote "I think people are a bit in love with Emily Maitlis, she's a brilliant interviewer", I am and she is, and in Airhead she is a great companion and narrator. I listened to the Penguin audio book version narrated by Emily Maitlis. ( sadly this version doesn't have the information on her now infamous interview with Prince Andrew ).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This is a series of snapshots and encounters from Emily Maitlis that have marked some of her most memorable interviews. They include musings on accompanying Donald Trump to a beauty pageant, six years before he became President, and later questioning why she didn't pull him out on his hazy relationship with the truth, the migrant march of 2015, a near incomprehensible interview with the Dalai Lama, being arrested in Cuba, interviewing Harvey Weinstein's PA, as well as many others - including Ton This is a series of snapshots and encounters from Emily Maitlis that have marked some of her most memorable interviews. They include musings on accompanying Donald Trump to a beauty pageant, six years before he became President, and later questioning why she didn't pull him out on his hazy relationship with the truth, the migrant march of 2015, a near incomprehensible interview with the Dalai Lama, being arrested in Cuba, interviewing Harvey Weinstein's PA, as well as many others - including Tony Blair, Piers Morgan, James Comey, Sean Spicer and Bill Clinton. I have always enjoyed Emily Maitlis on Newsnight and on Americast with Jon Sopel, so I found this a really interesting account of making the news. Although much of this is fairly light, there are also more thought provoking moments, such as her long, difficult issues with a stalker. However, Maitlis is keen not to make herself the centre of the story and it is the news that she champions and the importance of a media which has, so often recently, been under attack.

  4. 4 out of 5

    SueKich

    Maitlis, mascara and mastering the art of the tv interview. There’s no getting away from it: Emily Maitlis is ordinately ‘well turned out’! She’s immaculately groomed right down to her no-doubt flawless cuticles. It’s not just a key component of the Maitlis signature style, it’s an essential part of who La Maitlis is - and her appearance is simply one further iteration of her meticulous preparation for an interview. This book is not an intimate self-portrait, quite the opposite. It’s an account Maitlis, mascara and mastering the art of the tv interview. There’s no getting away from it: Emily Maitlis is ordinately ‘well turned out’! She’s immaculately groomed right down to her no-doubt flawless cuticles. It’s not just a key component of the Maitlis signature style, it’s an essential part of who La Maitlis is - and her appearance is simply one further iteration of her meticulous preparation for an interview. This book is not an intimate self-portrait, quite the opposite. It’s an account of her most recent memorable interviews: how they were set up, the points in the interview that struck her as important and her feelings as the interview was concluded: was it a job well done, did her viewers gain any insights, did she land the soccer-punch that makes for great telly? Interestingly, she talks about a kind of tv time-warp: how everything is distilled into ‘one snapshot, one soundbite. Then the new cycle moves on.’ Equally fascinating is her take on interviews for which she’s had the time to prepare thoroughly versus the stomach-churning excitement she feels when she goes for it and grabs an unexpected opening that has presented itself. Her fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants interviews are bordering on legendary (her nabbing of Anthony Scaramucci on the White House lawn is surely unforgettable and – boy – was that ever a short window of opportunity!) As for the crouch-in-the-lift-to-apply-the-mascara moments, which female amongst us who cares about her appearance has not been seized by a similar moment of blind panic? "Will I look alright???" It’s all done in bite-size, eminently readable chunks. She is a far more engaging writer than I had expected her to be (I wonder why I’d thought her rather too cool a customer – could this be the impeccable grooming?). But in fact she shows warmth and empathy in abundance. Of course, she’s as hard-nosed as it comes when she needs to be, relentlessly pursuing an interviewee she wants at the risk of incurring their wrath. And whilst there wasn’t quite as much of the personal side in Airhead as we might like there to be, that's not what she wanted this book to be about. The woman we see here is a consummate professional who can only be admired. And yes, liked. I wish her and her family well.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lyndsey Jenkins

    I’m really disappointed in this. She makes so many important points about journalistic ethics, but the format - based around specific interviews - never allows a sustained analysis to develop. There is a great book in here which didn’t get written.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Whistle stop tour of some of the more memorable moments in recent years that has moulded and brought Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis to TV news and current affairs watchers attention. Elections, Donald Trump and Brexit have brought such presenters more to the forefront despite the frustration that political interviews and programmes drone on about stuff we find altogether boring. Emily Maitlis is a driven journalist in a male dominated world who beyond her natural good looks has succeeded at the BBC an Whistle stop tour of some of the more memorable moments in recent years that has moulded and brought Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis to TV news and current affairs watchers attention. Elections, Donald Trump and Brexit have brought such presenters more to the forefront despite the frustration that political interviews and programmes drone on about stuff we find altogether boring. Emily Maitlis is a driven journalist in a male dominated world who beyond her natural good looks has succeeded at the BBC and fronted Newsnight with a degree of grace and an ear for a story. Post Paxman she has come to our attention but she has been around for longer than than we may think. Airhead: The Imperfect Art of Making News is Maitlis at her best describing what in her professional life she loves most. Getting that killer interview, remembering to ask the right questions and delivering a piece to camera that provides clarity and context. Here in a book format she is able to unpack this process and explain her fears, rationale and motivations to be the best she can and tell those stories. I found the book a compelling read; the many interviewees all have something to say and her role is secondary to the whole. She is honest, fearless, reflective and empathetic in this process and that comes across in her writing and recalling these meetings. How they came about, the issues at that time, what needed to be addressed and why sometimes things don’t go to plan. It is her dry humour that also gets conveyed and I get no sense of a woman who feels she is the leading star or the main player. What translates is her sense of teamwork, a shared vision and focus coupled with the support and encouragement she receives and reciprocates to her Newsnight buddies. Emily’s humility also shines through. Although not a perfectionist she worries if she missed something out or came over too forcibly. She cares about those she meets and isn’t just out for a good sound bite. She comprehends the agenda of the politician or celebrity and why it isn’t always possible to elicit the answers she desires. But she still beats herself up if she feels she has been overtaxing or too soft in her questioning. Above all she is an intelligent journalist, a hard-working individual and the consummate professional. Her book is refreshing and illuminating and allows more insight into her work and because of her openness perhaps reveals far more than she’d say if someone else interviewed her. I hope Airhead is widely read, it isn’t a dry political read but a commentary on our busy modern lives. It is a book that will appeal to a broad section of readers since it is well written, engaging and filled with wit, emotion and energy. However, the quality that stands out most is the author’s integrity.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I thought this might be more of a memoir, but we only get tiny glimpses into Maitlis's own life - she mentions in passing that she was born in Sheffield, that a relative escaped from Nazi Germany, and a chapter is dedicated to her experience of being stalked for the past 20 years. Airhead is more of a collection of snippets from previous interviews Maitlis has done throughout her career. While each chapter is not all that long it really feels like the reader gets an insight into each individual I thought this might be more of a memoir, but we only get tiny glimpses into Maitlis's own life - she mentions in passing that she was born in Sheffield, that a relative escaped from Nazi Germany, and a chapter is dedicated to her experience of being stalked for the past 20 years. Airhead is more of a collection of snippets from previous interviews Maitlis has done throughout her career. While each chapter is not all that long it really feels like the reader gets an insight into each individual which is not widely known by those who have not had the opportunity to interview them. Some of the more memorable chapters featured the Dalai Lama, Piers Morgan, Emma Thompson, David Attenborough, Anthony Scaramucci and Donald Trump. Recommended! Thank you Netgalley and Penguin UK - Michael Joseph for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    I bought this because I liked Maitlis on Newsnight skewering politicians with her sharp intellect and curious mind and think this book is rubbish precisely because she seems to have been told to tone down the quick thinking and opt instead for nauseating accounts of her crush on Simon Cowell. It's a massive let down, and I really wish she'd not bothered trying to gloss over her intelligence lest it was too much for the alpha males of the BBC to cope with and just written a book from her brain ra I bought this because I liked Maitlis on Newsnight skewering politicians with her sharp intellect and curious mind and think this book is rubbish precisely because she seems to have been told to tone down the quick thinking and opt instead for nauseating accounts of her crush on Simon Cowell. It's a massive let down, and I really wish she'd not bothered trying to gloss over her intelligence lest it was too much for the alpha males of the BBC to cope with and just written a book from her brain rather than this terrible hash of very smart woman meets Bella. It's garbage.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Eoin McGrath

    Stunning collection of vignettes, which in a great way, is preferable to a full blown memoir. I feel some parts could go deeper, but that being said, it's understandably more of a journalistic account. Stunning collection of vignettes, which in a great way, is preferable to a full blown memoir. I feel some parts could go deeper, but that being said, it's understandably more of a journalistic account.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Graham

    Anecdotal account of some of the author's more memorable interviews. Provides an insight on the haphazard nature of reporting and the simplification that TV requires/ imposes. Mostly forgettable. Anecdotal account of some of the author's more memorable interviews. Provides an insight on the haphazard nature of reporting and the simplification that TV requires/ imposes. Mostly forgettable.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sid Nuncius

    I enjoyed Airhead. It’s more of a collection of vignettes that a full memoir, which means that I tended to dip in and out of it, but a few sections at a time make very good reading. Each section describes a memorable interview or event which Emily Maitlis reported on, with background detail and some personal reflections. This isn’t really an autobiography or even a memoir. We get personal details of Maitlis’s life and career only as they impinge on the story she’s covering at the time – like the I enjoyed Airhead. It’s more of a collection of vignettes that a full memoir, which means that I tended to dip in and out of it, but a few sections at a time make very good reading. Each section describes a memorable interview or event which Emily Maitlis reported on, with background detail and some personal reflections. This isn’t really an autobiography or even a memoir. We get personal details of Maitlis’s life and career only as they impinge on the story she’s covering at the time – like the Grenfell Tower disaster, because she lives close by and spent the day working as a volunteer there – and I could have done with a little more background. Nonetheless, she is quite self-critical and examines her motives and actions in some depth at times; she gives a very good flavour of some of the ethical dilemmas faced by reporters and doesn’t always conclude that she did the right thing. I found this aspect of the book very interesting and rather admirable. The book is well structured and prose is very readable, although (perhaps inevitably) there is sometimes a little too much journalistic punchiness for my taste. You know the sort of thing: talking of Hungary, “The eyes of the world are once more upon it. But not in the way of old.” That trick of a full stop and new, verbless sentence, rather than a comma can get a bit wearing after a while. She doesn’t overdo it too badly, but it did grate on me a bit. Maitlis emerges from the book as thoughtful, intelligent and perceptive with a surprisingly deep vein of self-doubt – which probably contributes to those qualities. There are some amusing moments, too, which always helps and I can recommend this as a readable, interesting and insightful book. (My thanks to Penguin UK for an ARC via NetGalley.)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Charli

    Just fab. 5 stars Engaging, concise stories, covering encounters with the Dali Lama, Syrian migrants to Simon Cowell - ‘he’s shorter in real life’ ... (We’ve all seen those dodgy heeled shoes he wears Emily) Her ability to hold whoever accountable, from Russel Brand to Bill Clinton and humanising what we see on our TV screens Insightful hearing her reflections on interviews she did years ago, to present day, particularly on asking more pointed questions to men on #MeToo // read on the plane to Ista Just fab. 5 stars Engaging, concise stories, covering encounters with the Dali Lama, Syrian migrants to Simon Cowell - ‘he’s shorter in real life’ ... (We’ve all seen those dodgy heeled shoes he wears Emily) Her ability to hold whoever accountable, from Russel Brand to Bill Clinton and humanising what we see on our TV screens Insightful hearing her reflections on interviews she did years ago, to present day, particularly on asking more pointed questions to men on #MeToo // read on the plane to Istanbul, Emily Maitlis will now remind me of escaping Bucks to Turkey to during corona //

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mary Picken

    Emily Maitlis has a really uplifting writing style which makes this book a joy to read. Coupled with a sense of self-doubt and a humour that is sometimes wry and which she occasionally turns on herself, this makes Airhead a delightful and fast read. This is not an autobiography; rather it is a series of anecdotes and memorable interviews Maitlis has conducted. She wanted, she says, to show that more often than not, broadcasting is more cock-up than conspiracy. She does that, but in doing so, she Emily Maitlis has a really uplifting writing style which makes this book a joy to read. Coupled with a sense of self-doubt and a humour that is sometimes wry and which she occasionally turns on herself, this makes Airhead a delightful and fast read. This is not an autobiography; rather it is a series of anecdotes and memorable interviews Maitlis has conducted. She wanted, she says, to show that more often than not, broadcasting is more cock-up than conspiracy. She does that, but in doing so, she also shows us that in a fast moving news environment keeping your head is everything if you are to deliver that interview. Her interviewees range from Donald Trump at the Miss USA Beauty Pageant to Sheryl Sandberg on grief to Emma Thompson and the Chippendales on #MeToo and Theresa May after Grenfell. The Grenfell Tower chapter is particularly poignant. Maitlis and her neighbours were volunteering after the fire, helping to find clothing, personal hygiene materials, food and shelter for the rescued residents. Interviewing Theresa May in the aftermath of a completely horrendous situation, her own feelings were less than calm. She discusses Piers Morgan in an almost affectionate way but her best moments come when she is commenting as an aside on people or events. She relates the story of being in India to interview Bill Clinton on part of the Clinton Foundation’s work there on HIV. Afterwards, in her hotel, she is looking longingly at a cashmere pashmina when she sees the former President walk in. Embarrassed to be seen coveting such luxury after spending the day contemplating the poverty of India, she winds the pashmina over her face, only to see Bill Clinton walk over to the book table and pick up a beautifully decorated copy of the Kama Sutra. She is very funny on her interview with the Dalai Lama, whom she slowly comes to realise will not give her a straight answer to any question she asks. It is, she reflects, just like talking to any blustering politician. She worries about her frizzy hair, lack of sleep and hastily put on make-up when she’s out on location, yet she leaves us with the impression of a woman who is at the top of her game; who can balance the personal and the political in interviews and come out with the right mix and who is thoughtful and intelligent when considering the questions to be asked. Airhead is anything but vacuous; it is a series of beautifully observed interviews from the interviewer’s perspective, told with compassion, wit and elegance – much like the lady herself. Verdict: Well written, wry, perceptive and intelligent anecdotes from a well-travelled journalist.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Geraldine O'Hagan

    Overall, this was disappointing. TBF, I didn't really know anything about Emily Maitliss before reading this, but I guess I assumed that since she's a journalist covering stories of national and international interest and extremely serious cases this book would be analytical and informative. I was wrong. Instead it touches very lightly on a number of high-profile interviews and TV spots Maitliss has been involved in. Many powerful men have their words repeated by her without any response or rebutt Overall, this was disappointing. TBF, I didn't really know anything about Emily Maitliss before reading this, but I guess I assumed that since she's a journalist covering stories of national and international interest and extremely serious cases this book would be analytical and informative. I was wrong. Instead it touches very lightly on a number of high-profile interviews and TV spots Maitliss has been involved in. Many powerful men have their words repeated by her without any response or rebuttal, whilst she breathlessly fangirls about their charisma. Many minor criticisms of Maitliss' reporting technique are dismissed, to the background of horrific tragedies which are mainly barely commented on. Many very boring texts and tweets are repeated verbatim, to no obvious end. Not only is this book dull, but on occasion the lack of contrasting viewpoints and complete absence of even a hint of debate is ignorant, and even downright dangerous. Most egregious is possibly the section when Maitliss draws comparison between Rachel Dolezal's actions and the experience of transgender people. At one point she even includes a tweet from an anti-transgender troll, which she apparently takes at face value. Then having skipped lightly over this painful and difficult issue she moves on, without offering any hint of the opposing view. Or indeed any indications that she understands the issue at all. Similarly contentious is the section when she jumps from covering the horrific experiences of migrants crossing Europe to effectively blaming them for Brexit. At best, clumsy. At worst, inflammatory. A nadir is reached when Maitliss manages to fawn over Prince Andrew even whilst questioning him on his membership of a paedophile ring. Truly horrifying stuff. A significant amount of the book is just fluff - asking Simon Cowell about his ex-girlfriends or Jon Stewart about his father issues. A fair amount of it is self congratulation for the amazing value and impact of her interviews. And some of it is personally offensive to me - discussing what good friends she is with Piers Morgan, or inexplicably describing Jeremy Clarkson as "profoundly anti-establishment". I was hoping for light essays with a sociopolitical angle, informed by the many years an intelligent woman has spent at the heart of news journalism. What I got was a somewhat self-serving memoir by a woman living in a comfortable upper-middle-class media bubble who is unaware of the extent to which she neglects to question the establishment. At times I was almost embarrassed for her, as she basically giggles and twirls her hair whilst interviewing Bill Clinton and Jon Stewart, or concludes a section on Grenfell by discussing how hard television journalism is. But more often I felt let down by her - an intelligent, educated woman in a position of power who seems to be wasting chance after chance to make a difference.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Liam Kerrigan

    Not as I expected it to be, but nonetheless enjoyable. What I thought would be a more long-form explanation of the news-making process, turned out to be an almost memoir-like examination of Maitlis’ Newsnight career, detailing a number of memorable and famous (or infamous) encounters whilst providing a peak behind the curtain into the decisions and circumstances that were involved. The book, as a series of short, fast, mostly disconnected chapters reflects the subject of the book; as Maitlis deta Not as I expected it to be, but nonetheless enjoyable. What I thought would be a more long-form explanation of the news-making process, turned out to be an almost memoir-like examination of Maitlis’ Newsnight career, detailing a number of memorable and famous (or infamous) encounters whilst providing a peak behind the curtain into the decisions and circumstances that were involved. The book, as a series of short, fast, mostly disconnected chapters reflects the subject of the book; as Maitlis details how fast-paced and often chaotic the whole process is, as when she was given ten-minutes notice before interviewing then Prime Minister Theresa May in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy. This is not to suggest that there is not a great deal of thought and planning that goes into each story and/or interview - and it is evident why Maitlis is as successful and respected a journalist as she is. If there is a criticism to be made it is on this point: that the book provides more breadth than depth. We get a peak behind the curtain, but it is never fully withdrawn. There is the potential of another book within this; a full examination of the process of news-making rather than the autobiographical retelling in Airhead. Honest and funny, though not without moments of considerable sadness also, it was a highly enjoyable read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laura-leigh

    This is really just Emily interviewing powerful men and a couple of women about men. The only really interesting part is when Emily talks about her personal experience of being stalked. Quick read but nothing of depth.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Harjot

    From the book's subhead - the imperfect art of making news, I guess I expected some tricks of the trade in the book but it turned out to have just records of interactions. Slightly disappointed. From the book's subhead - the imperfect art of making news, I guess I expected some tricks of the trade in the book but it turned out to have just records of interactions. Slightly disappointed.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alistair

    A solidly enjoyable book. My newly compiled method of deciding on star ratings, it turns out, is designed only for fiction so I'll just freestyle. It's a set of anecdotes around Emily Maitlis career as a TV anchor, not really autobiographical as fly on the wall, notes from a person who has been just at the edge of big events, who has met and interviewed some of the lost famous people in western society. Easy to read, for one thing. Very digestible, short chapters, each devoted to an interview or n A solidly enjoyable book. My newly compiled method of deciding on star ratings, it turns out, is designed only for fiction so I'll just freestyle. It's a set of anecdotes around Emily Maitlis career as a TV anchor, not really autobiographical as fly on the wall, notes from a person who has been just at the edge of big events, who has met and interviewed some of the lost famous people in western society. Easy to read, for one thing. Very digestible, short chapters, each devoted to an interview or news based event. And there's loads: Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Donald Trump, Theresa May. At its best, it's fascinating. She sets it up as an insight into the making of News, how seat-of-your-pants it is, how sometimes it falls in her lap and others it falls apart. How sometimes she regrets mistakes, and sometimes she can't believe her luck. Those bits are five star - really interesting set ups and backgrounds. In criticism, there's a bit of filler in there, most of the celebrity ones: - Russel Brand (FFS), Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan (who she is friends with). Rather than insightful, these are just summaries of the interviews, and even though she seems to like them they all come across as awful as I expect they are in person. I assume these chapters are kept in for fluff and fun, but I'd have scrapped them. Interestingly I noticed the pattern pretty early and could then tell it the chapter whether it was going to be an insight, or just a Sunday magazine celeb article, based on the subject. But I won't labour the critique, because that was forgiveable, and the book is a worthy read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    You know, I’m going a full five stars on this one. I toyed with four, but then asked myself what needed to be different to bump it up to a five, and the only thing I came up with is I’d have liked it to be longer. Five it is then. It isn’t a memoir as such, more a recollection of the moments that lead to and surround some of the interviews the author has conducted. There are only a couple of chapters that stray from that format, and they are very well worth the exception. I wouldn’t call myself You know, I’m going a full five stars on this one. I toyed with four, but then asked myself what needed to be different to bump it up to a five, and the only thing I came up with is I’d have liked it to be longer. Five it is then. It isn’t a memoir as such, more a recollection of the moments that lead to and surround some of the interviews the author has conducted. There are only a couple of chapters that stray from that format, and they are very well worth the exception. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Emily Maitlis, I know who she is and have seen her on TV, but I knew very little else about her. That’s just fine, because the book isn’t about her. It’s about the characters, the movements, the questions, the stress, the humanity, the humour and the guilt and the grief. It’s a fabulous book. At times I was struggling to swallow past the lump in my throat, and at others was literally choking back laughter. The book is far funnier than I anticipated - often but not always at the author’s own expense - and I think it kind of needed to be, in order to temper some of the considerably heavier, emotionally charged and important subjects covered. It was an impulse purchase for me. I saw it, thought “That might be interesting,” and had a spare Audible credit at the time. It turns out to be my favourite read of the year so far.

  20. 4 out of 5

    James Cridland

    This promises to be an interesting look behind the scenes of television news, though if we're going to be fair about it, it's really a list of big interviews that Emily Maitlis has done, written out in long-hand, with some thoughts about whether she did a good job or not. She seems remarkably unconfident. The story of how she got Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci is very entertaining; and the more interesting (and weird) thing we learn is that she really likes Piers "Moron" Morgan, and thinks he's This promises to be an interesting look behind the scenes of television news, though if we're going to be fair about it, it's really a list of big interviews that Emily Maitlis has done, written out in long-hand, with some thoughts about whether she did a good job or not. She seems remarkably unconfident. The story of how she got Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci is very entertaining; and the more interesting (and weird) thing we learn is that she really likes Piers "Moron" Morgan, and thinks he's brilliant; and really doesn't like the Dalai Lama, who she thinks says nothing of any interest. And how much she loves Alan Partridge, with whom she spent an entire afternoon filming one, minute-long, joke. The last chapter of the book is a look into her stalker, a thing I knew nothing about before this book. It's a strange list of people who she's interviewed, and not an awful lot else, and I'm not sure I've learnt much from the book other than TV news seems even more shambolic than I thought it was already.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    Not a memoir, not a biography, but a series of bite-sized vignettes about the life of a successful newscaster and interviewer. One who prepares carefully, but flies by the seat of her pants. One who researches, but seizes the moment. One who knows what she wants from an interview, but who will allow happenstance to take control. This is a real insight, wittily written, into the high-octane life of a political journalist. It's fairly exhausting reading, so what it's like to be part of her family, Not a memoir, not a biography, but a series of bite-sized vignettes about the life of a successful newscaster and interviewer. One who prepares carefully, but flies by the seat of her pants. One who researches, but seizes the moment. One who knows what she wants from an interview, but who will allow happenstance to take control. This is a real insight, wittily written, into the high-octane life of a political journalist. It's fairly exhausting reading, so what it's like to be part of her family, I can't imagine- we learn only a certain amount from reading between the lines of this book. An interesting, well and amusingly written book. Recommended to those of us who keep up with current affairs!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nick Brett

    I enjoyed this, an interesting perspective on the life of a TV journalist. It’s not a biography of Emily Maitlis but snippets of the major stories she was involved in. Outside of the key interviews (Trump, Prince Andrew, Piers Morgan etc) is the prep and work that goes into making those interviews work. Airhead is obviously the exact opposite of Ms Maitlis who has the kind of life not many could cope with, not all easy interviews, but life disrupting, stressful and actually hard work. Ms Maitlis I enjoyed this, an interesting perspective on the life of a TV journalist. It’s not a biography of Emily Maitlis but snippets of the major stories she was involved in. Outside of the key interviews (Trump, Prince Andrew, Piers Morgan etc) is the prep and work that goes into making those interviews work. Airhead is obviously the exact opposite of Ms Maitlis who has the kind of life not many could cope with, not all easy interviews, but life disrupting, stressful and actually hard work. Ms Maitlis keeps the line of impartiality well but also does share enough of herself that you feel you are getting to know her as a person. And a person you think would be interesting and witty company too. This is an interesting and fairly quick read with a perspective of a job that is not all glamour.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Bentley

    I’ll be honest, I am more of a channel 4 news kinda gal and although I had seen Emily Maitlis on the news on the BBC I wasn’t really aware of just how prolific her career as an investigative journalist she was. That all changed after watching that interview – you know the one I mean – and I instantly wanted to find out more about her career. By all accounts she has led a fascinating life. The places she has been and the people she has met are amazing. However, what comes across in her memoir is ju I’ll be honest, I am more of a channel 4 news kinda gal and although I had seen Emily Maitlis on the news on the BBC I wasn’t really aware of just how prolific her career as an investigative journalist she was. That all changed after watching that interview – you know the one I mean – and I instantly wanted to find out more about her career. By all accounts she has led a fascinating life. The places she has been and the people she has met are amazing. However, what comes across in her memoir is just how humbled she is by her experiences and how she always strives to do better. Airhead is a must read. It is a fascinating social document about the world we live in. Airhead by Emily Maitlis is available now.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gabi

    I bought this book not just with the intention of delving deeper into the understanding of a journalistic mind, and the opportunities, chances and happenings that the world of journalism creates. But because I have been a long admirer of Maitlis’ work. Her hard-hitting and thought provoking Newsnight segments, as well as her often brutal yet brilliant interviews with famous names from a spectrum of sectors, have provided interesting insights into what their worlds are like and what their story’s I bought this book not just with the intention of delving deeper into the understanding of a journalistic mind, and the opportunities, chances and happenings that the world of journalism creates. But because I have been a long admirer of Maitlis’ work. Her hard-hitting and thought provoking Newsnight segments, as well as her often brutal yet brilliant interviews with famous names from a spectrum of sectors, have provided interesting insights into what their worlds are like and what their story’s are in a classy style. This isn’t so much about the journey of her career as a journalist, but the beautifully truthful ups and downs of the most fascinating encounters she’s had along the way, and where her non-stop career has taken her. It has just ignited my passion for a future in this world even more, and I hope one day to read a second book, detailing her next adventures.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cold War Conversations Podcast

    Great insight into the world of TV news Emily Maitlis gives you the low down on life on the road interviewing politicians as well as the odd Chippendale... It's an easy read with some great anecdotes, particularly the Bill Clinton gift shop one and gives you some great insight into the pressures and processes that go into making TV interviews despite the sometime chaos that is happening off camera. You even get the background on how she starred in the latest Alan Partridge show too! Great insight into the world of TV news Emily Maitlis gives you the low down on life on the road interviewing politicians as well as the odd Chippendale... It's an easy read with some great anecdotes, particularly the Bill Clinton gift shop one and gives you some great insight into the pressures and processes that go into making TV interviews despite the sometime chaos that is happening off camera. You even get the background on how she starred in the latest Alan Partridge show too!

  26. 5 out of 5

    N

    Brisk and breezy, Airhead is an infinitely-readable glimpse of what it's like to report for BBC's Newsnight. My main criticism is that it's so brisk, such a glimpse, that it feels a little slight. Emily Maitlis makes a specific decision not to include much personal content, which ... sure, fine, it's your life ... but for me it renders the book unanchored. (Wikipedia tells me Maitlis is the only Newsnight presenter who wasn't privately educated. Tell me about THAT, Emily. Also brb slitting my shit Brisk and breezy, Airhead is an infinitely-readable glimpse of what it's like to report for BBC's Newsnight. My main criticism is that it's so brisk, such a glimpse, that it feels a little slight. Emily Maitlis makes a specific decision not to include much personal content, which ... sure, fine, it's your life ... but for me it renders the book unanchored. (Wikipedia tells me Maitlis is the only Newsnight presenter who wasn't privately educated. Tell me about THAT, Emily. Also brb slitting my shitty-comprehensive-attending wrists.)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Beatrice

    This is a great read - Newsnight will never be quite the same again now I know the story behind some of the interviews. Maitlis seems very careful not to bring her own views and values into it too much, but she does convey a feeling for what it must be like to be a witness to history unfolding, while at the same time coming across as a normal human being trying to live her own life with her family and friends. I've always liked and admired her, and I do even more so now. This is a great read - Newsnight will never be quite the same again now I know the story behind some of the interviews. Maitlis seems very careful not to bring her own views and values into it too much, but she does convey a feeling for what it must be like to be a witness to history unfolding, while at the same time coming across as a normal human being trying to live her own life with her family and friends. I've always liked and admired her, and I do even more so now.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Eleanor Harwood-Todd

    I feel sorry for everyone I’ve seen in the last week who all they have heard is ‘I’ve been listening to the Emily Maitlis audio book and...’ I absolutely loved it, such the perfect balance of light hearted, hard hitting and genuinely eye opening. Emily Maitlis is definitely my new heroin after reading this.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anna Curran

    I'm a big Emily Maitlis fan girl so I knew this would be 5 stars before I even listened to it... I love the fact that it was read by her - she writes and reads so well. Really interesting and even funny at times. Such a good audio book to have on in the background. I'm a big Emily Maitlis fan girl so I knew this would be 5 stars before I even listened to it... I love the fact that it was read by her - she writes and reads so well. Really interesting and even funny at times. Such a good audio book to have on in the background.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    If I’d read this during my journalism MA, I might actually have wanted to *be* a journalist... a funny, candid look at what it takes to be in the middle of fast-paced world events, interviewing history’s central characters. Frankly, what a ledge. Didn’t want it to end.

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