My book review of 'Scoops' by Sam McAlister

by Sam McAlister
Scoops
by Sam McAlister

I like to read about journalism so was intrigued to hear about the release of this book written by a producer from BBC Two's 'Newsnight' programme.

It's not a great cover, I would suggest, and it's a modest book, but it is fascinating!

Sam McAlister has now stepped away from the BBC, but she gives us some highlights of her career booking interviewees for the programme.

Sam McAlister trained as a barrister after leaving university. She'd always been good at debating, and she followed her friends' lead in choosing a career path. Quickly realising the job wasn't for her she again sought friends' advice and ended up asking for a way in to the BBC. 

She was given an opportunity to work in the 'Newsnight' team and found that on her first day she was briefing Jeremy Paxman on a subject she knew little about. Doesn't give you much faith in the programme, it has to be said. But Sam stepped up to the task, asked for an extension of her contract, and never left.

Her role was to book the key interviewees featured on the programme - people making the news or instrumental in decisions of the time. In this book she tells us about Stormy Daniels, Sean Spicer, Julian Assange and many more.

The key selling point of this book, though, is the account of the interview undertaken by Emily Maitlis with Prince Andrew on his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein. It is extraordinary viewing, even now, and is apparently due to be made into a film. But this takes us through the processes involved in getting to that conversation, and something of the immediate aftermath too. 

Considered by her colleagues to be a 'booker extraordinaire', Sam shares something of her work ethic and how she came to be so successful in persuading people to step up to the intense scrutiny of the 'Newsnight' team. It's a great read. I devoured it in a sitting, but will be dipping into it again.

Review date: August 2022
Publication date: 14th July 2022