Cover

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Half Title, Further Titles, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction | The Rise and Fall of Newspapers in a Time of Turmoil

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pp. 1-12

In early 2017, the Washington Post unveiled a new slogan, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” The ominous-sounding phrase, displayed prominently beneath the paper’s nameplate, was a favorite saying of the Post’s legendary reporter Bob Woodward in describing what happens to self-government in the absence of reliable, independent journalism. ...

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One | The Swashbuckler: Jeff Bezos Puts His Stamp on a Legendary Newspaper

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pp. 13-34

The nation’s capital was still digging out from the two feet of snow that had fallen over the weekend.1 But inside the gleaming new headquarters of the Washington Post, a celebration was under way.
Among the speakers at the dedication festivities—held on Thursday, January 28, 2016—was Jason Rezaian, the Post reporter who had just been released by the Iranian government. “For much of the eighteen months ...

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Two | The Crux of the Matter: John Henry’s Culture of Experimentation

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pp. 35-60

The scene at Boston College in September 2014 contained enough cognitive dissonance to induce vertigo.1
Some two decades earlier Cardinal Bernard Law had invoked the wrath of the Almighty in denouncing the Boston Globe for its coverage of the pedophile-priest scandal. “We call down God’s power on the media, ...

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Three | Unrequited Love: Spurned in Boston and Maine, Aaron Kushner Looks West

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pp. 61-80

My cell phone rang. On the line was Aaron Kushner, the entrepreneur who was the public face of the group that had purchased the Orange County Register nearly three years earlier. It was March 2015. I was heading out to Southern California the following week to ask people why Kushner’s stewardship of the Register had run off the rails ...

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Four | This Is Your Brain on the Internet: Can News Break Free of the Distraction Machine?

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pp. 81-100

For more than two decades, newspaper executives have been frantically, desperately trying to drag their publications into the digital future. And if you’re tempted to say that the future has long since arrived, here is what I mean. The digital future is one in which a newspaper’s online operations are profitable and sustainable, and in which print exists ...

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Five | Getting Big Fast: How the Washington Post Is Becoming the Amazon of News

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pp. 101-124

At the very moment Don Graham was signaling that the Washington Post was not for sale, an investment firm he had hired, Allen & Company, was talking to Jeff Bezos and other potential buyers.1 But if Graham was being coy in his public pronouncements, he couldn’t come close to the acting job turned in by his niece Katharine Weymouth. ...

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Six | The End of Free: The Boston Globe Tells Readers to Pay Up

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pp. 125-156

For someone who’s developed a reputation as a bit of a recluse, John Henry can exude a certain offbeat charisma when the occasion calls for it. I had experienced the Henry aura several times before I ever interviewed him. In October 2011, shortly after the Red Sox’ epic collapse that year, Henry showed up unannounced on a sports radio talk show ...

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Seven | Orange Crush: From California Dreaming to an Epic Nightmare

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pp. 157-181

From the moment that Aaron Kushner arrived in Southern California, no one was more outspoken or skeptical of his plans for the Orange County Register than Gustavo Arellano, the editor of the alternative OC Weekly. Skinny and bespectacled, funny and profane, Arellano wrote several articles and numerous blog posts about Kushner, ...

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Eight | Money Isn’t Everything: Why Wealthy Ownership Doesn’t Guarantee Success

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pp. 182-204

For all the larger forces that have battered the newspaper business over the past quarter-century, the good papers have remained good because of the character and intentions of the people who own them. It has ever been thus. The New York Times is the New York Times because Adolph Ochs and his descendants were dedicated to great journalism ...

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Nine | All In: Jeff Bezos Takes His Place as an “Enemy of the People”

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pp. 205-223

David Fahrenthold’s phone rang. The caller told him that he had some information about Donald Trump. Fahrenthold, a Washington Post reporter, had built a reputation for his relentlessness in covering Trump, reporting that many of the wealthy businessman’s claims of charitable giving were unsupported by the evidence and that the nonprofit Trump ...

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Epilogue | The Fall and Rise of Journalism in the Age of Trump

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pp. 224-228

The immediate aftershocks of Donald Trump’s stunning election in 2016 carried with them a wave of unexpected good news for some media organizations. Trump had won his Electoral College victory in part by attacking members of the media as “scum,” “slime,” “dishonest,” and “disgusting.”1 Such rhetoric played well with his most devoted supporters. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 229-232

This book grew out of a series of conversations I had with Stephen Hull of ForeEdge at University Press of New England. I had only recently completed The Wired City: Reimagining Journalism and Civic Life in the Post-Newspaper Age (University of Massachusetts Press, 2013), and I wasn’t sure how eager I was to dive into another book so soon ...

Notes

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pp. 233-270

Index

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pp. 271-281