Publishers Weekly Review
The internet killed off and resurrected journalism in unpredictable, hopeful, but corrupted ways, according to this scintillating insider's history. A former New York Times executive editor, Abramson (Strange Justice) profiles four major media companies in upheaval. Representing the dinosaurs are the New York Times and Washington Post newspapers, whose expensive, high-quality news operations faced bankruptcy a decade ago as print circulation and ad revenue shriveled. Representing online innovators are the website Buzzfeed, which pioneered "You Won't Believe What Happened Next" clickbait, and Vice, which morphed from an X-rated punk-hipster lifestyle magazine to gonzo-journalism video juggernaut. Abramson shows how the rivals learned and converged: Buzzfeed and Vice edged into award-winning prestige journalism, yet have struggled financially; the Times and Post mastered internet eyeball-grabbing strategies while amassing lucrative online subscriptions for their authoritative reporting; the price for all four, she notes, was an ethically queasy blurring of lines between paid advertising and news (the author's tense narrative of her Times editorship and controversial firing centers on this issue). Abramson's shrewd, stylishly written account includes colorful characters-Vice's culture of sexual harassment featured a naked office walkabout by founder Shane Smith-and savvy portraits of newsroom dynamics. The result is one of the best takes yet on journalism's changing fortunes. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, WME. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* These are perilous times to be a journalist. As if the advent of the internet and the aftereffects of the 2008 recession weren't enough to challenge the existing model of daily print newspapers and nightly network broadcasts, now we have a president who makes spurious charges of fake news and dangerously deems reporters to be enemies of the people. As a former executive editor of the New York Times, Abramson was uniquely situated to observe the changes that are affecting the ways in which media companies develop and distribute news and information. On the one hand, the New York Times and Washington Post epitomize the old guard of careful and credentialed journalism. On the other, upstarts such as BuzzFeed and Vice Media are challenging those standards by capitalizing on the immediacy of web-based sharing in conjunction with social media platforms such as Facebook and Google. It's a battle for industry dominance in which all entities will need to adapt or die, when the choice is often between revenue and substance. Never better than when she is detailing her personal professional crises when inherent conflicts between old and new media rattled Times management, Abramson offers an engrossing behind the curtains journey into the demanding business of modern media. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Abramson's expert and frank assessment of the struggles of the press in the "fake news" era will attract avid attention.--Carol Haggas Copyright 2019 Booklist