Merchants of Truth

Merchants of Truth

The Business of News and the Fight for Facts

Book - 2019
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"The definitive report on the disruption of the news media over the last decade. With the expert guidance of former Executive Editor of The New York Times Jill Abramson, we follow two legacy (The New York Times and The Washington Post) and two upstart (BuzzFeed and VICE) companies as they plow through a revolution in technology, economics, standards, commitment, and endurance that pits old vs. new media"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2019.
ISBN: 9781501123207
Characteristics: 534 pages ; 24 cm

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c
candlesticktroughs
Jul 10, 2019

does anyone remember a fellow who lived in the East, name of Stalin? NEW YORK TIMES had a correspondent named Walter Duranty, who lived in Moscow, and ate at the Maximum Leader's table. When Stalin engaged in his great purge of the Ukrainians, killing approximately 40 million peasants, there was nary a word of it in the paper which has always boasted, 'All The News That's Fit To Print.' Mr. Duranty saw little, heard little; you might say he was living off the fat of the land. As far as massacres go, we have always heard up the yin yang about 'The Holocaust.' Well, that was only 6 million people, it was during wartime, and not all of the victims, were Hebraic in origin. 'Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder.'

b
Bududo
Jul 10, 2019

This is a generally tedious and entirely humorless narrative covering the past two decades of two traditional news organizations: the New York Times and the Washington Post. The narrative of the traditional news organizations is juxtaposed to an account of two web-based organizations (Vice and Buzzfeed) that aspired to being news outlets of the stature of the New York Times. It is not clear why Vice and Buzzfeed were chosen because as of this date, they certainly do not represent the best or the most interesting models of providing news or factual data. In addition to the four content organizations, the book has a chapter on Facebook - the leading conduit of content. Here the author is quite appalled at the algorithmic manipulations performed by Facebook.

It is ironical that I would suggest that the book could use a good editor (it contained a lot of repetitious passages) particularly given that the author was the Executive editor of the New York Times. The title of the book is, also, quite misleading because most of the focus of the organizations involved are about readership metrics. The book is seldom about any fighting for truth. Regarding the business end of news, the author provides a few random facts but there is no discussion on what key metrics an outsider should watch or insights into the industry and organizational trends and comparisons - all of which it is reasonable to expect from an Executive Editor of the New York Times.
Instead the author provides a meandering narrative in which it is difficult to know if the anecdote told is random or representative and why one should draw broader conclusions from a particular case.
Frequently the author will state a fact (e.g. Trump was the beneficiary of $3B of free publicity), without context, and expect the reader to extrapolate to broader conclusions but without bothering to make the case.
Instead of broadly assessing the industry and industry trends, it seems that the author is more interested in relating her personal experience at the New York Times and her perspectives of the 2016 presidential campaign. One incident at the Times is revealing in which the author hires a lawyer after discovering that she (with no experience as Executive Editor) was paid less than her male predecessor (who had 8 years of experience.) This is pronounced as evidence of discrimination against women - perhaps but not decisively so as presented. Regarding the 2016 campaign, it is clear that the author (and most of the organizations covered in book) were not only expecting but desirous of a Clinton presidency. In the disappointing aftermath, the author spends some time hand-wringing regarding articles critical of Hilary Clinton.
Although the transition to full digital news is still progressing, the author concludes that the New York Times has arrived at the happy state where the news reputation is mostly intact and readership is increasing.

The definitive account of the digital disruption of news content and distribution has yet to be related.

t
tirjan
May 18, 2019

I had written and long comment on this book but the website timed out and I lost it. Therefore, I now copied this from Amazon:

The definitive report on the disruption of the news media over the last decade. With the expert guidance of former Executive Editor of The New York Times Jill Abramson, we follow two legacy (The New York Times and The Washington Post) and two upstart (BuzzFeed and VICE) companies as they plow through a revolution in technology, economics, standards, commitment, and endurance that pits old vs. new media.

Merchants of Truth is the groundbreaking and gripping story of the precarious state of the news business told by one of our most eminent journalists.

Merchants of Truth raises crucial questions that concern the well-being of our society. We are facing a crisis in trust that threatens the free press. Abramson’s book points us to the future.

s
StarGladiator
Apr 13, 2019

Quote: How does it feel to be the managing editor of the paper that makes stuff up?
Question posed to Abramson by the Daily Show's Samantha Be in 2004.
______________________________________________________________
Exactly! A wrongly titled book, once again Jill Abramson is acting as an apologist for the NY Times [but this time for the Washington Post, as well].
I would describe both this book and former NY Times Managing Editor/Apologist, Jill Abramson, as the personification of submediocrity. Do we learn anything newsworthy in this book?
Of course not!
Does Abramson mention Chris Hedges resignation from the NY Times because he wouldn't follow their false script on the Iraq invasion/war?
Of course not!
I long ago gave up on the NY Times for the same reason as others - - a need for real news, not made up stuff! As far as WaPo goes - - just take a close look at the WaPo Sunday Book Reviews between 2000 to 2008 and compare the names of the reviewers with the names on the old list of PNAC membership [Project for a New American Century, rightwing group] and note the repetition of names! Nothing more need be said . . .
Point being: Far too many of us long abandoned Establishment non-news for factual information to be found on the Web, both in articles in incredibly informative comments by site commenters. Anyone who continues to follow such rags remains poorly misinformed!

s
StarGladiator
Apr 13, 2019

Quote: How does it feel to be the managing editor of the paper that makes stuff up?
Question posed to Abramson by the Daily Show's Samantha Bee in 2004.
______________________________________________________________
Exactly! A wrongly titled book, once again Jill Abramson is acting as an apologist for the NY Times [but this time for the Washington Post, as well].
I would describe both this book and former NY Times Managing Editor/Apologist, Jill Abramson, as the personification of submediocrity. Do we learn anything newsworthy in this book?
Of course not!
Does Abramson mention Chris Hedges resignation from the NY Times because he wouldn't follow their false script on the Iraq invasion/war?
Of course not!
I long ago gave up on the NY Times for the same reason as others - - a need for real news, not made up stuff! As far as WaPo goes - - just take a close look at the WaPo Sunday Book Reviews between 2000 to 2008 and compare the names of the reviewers with the names on the old list of PNAC membership [Project for a New American Century, rightwing group] and note the repetition of names! Nothing more need be said . . .

u
upshiftott
Apr 07, 2019

This is an excellent book that I would highly recommend if you have any interest in digital vs print journalism, digital KPI metrics, social media and how companies face change in today's fast paced environment, from both the perspective of winners and losers.

I most certainly learned a lot from this book.

With respect to plagiarism, the author was on "The Agenda", (a TVO 2 program), a couple of weeks ago and she acknowledged that, out of the 60 pages of references, one reference was completely missed and the other 2 references were there but just not listed on the correct page.

j
johnwalenta
Feb 24, 2019

I wonder if negative commenters, always for books that politically range from center-right to far left, have even bothered to read these books. There are often long wait lists buts certain commenters post their reviews almost as soon as these books are released. I intend to read this book with an open mind when my turn comes up.

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