Issue :   
August 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.          August 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:June' 2019


Real face of US media !


JILL ABRAMSON News media, print j o u r n a l i s m particularly, was once a ‘mission’ for the common good.No more. In the 21st century,news media are changing fast and transforming into a roaring business. Making quick buck is now the name of the survival game.
This enormously readable volume provides an excellent view of the media’s current landscape. The author, Jill Abramson, former executive editor of The New York Times, has meticulously detailed how America’s large newspapers’ editorial operations are conducted, and how their executives run this business.The author uncovers at length the two globally renowned dailies:
The author had personal experience of working for Washington Post. To provide a fuller view of the media’s changing scenario, she also analyses the working of the three upcoming online news outlets, BuzzFeed, Vice and Facebook, of whom she had intimate information.
Abramson authored this book after she was abruptly fired from The New York Times by publisher, Arthur G. Sulzberger Jr. Abramson was the only female executive editor in the paper’s history. Being a conscientious editor, she was not particularly concerned with the paper’s business aspect.
As a senior NYT journalist, Abramson was more devoted to drawing up ‘reporting lines and refashioning newsroom jobs...’ But, she was expected to be“aggressive about the need to generate new products and revenue.’’
For the NYT company, ‘Everything was about saving or generating money ‘The revenue producing products were expected to come from the newsroom.
Abramson, ‘threw her energies into the launch of a millennial news app... ’Because, she was more into creating ‘more news products’ rather than ‘more collaboration between the news and business sides, and ‘deep job cuts. Vanishing ad revenues’ in media were not her concern.
Such attitudes bode bad omen and led to a ‘handdelivered very negative evaluation’ to Abramson by Sulzberger in January 2014.
On a freezing cold January night, he called her to tell her, ‘don’t bother to come tomorrow.’ After 11 years of work, she was told to pack up. Abramson was shell shocked, angry.
This book, Abramson says, took her three years. It was ‘inspired by lifelong passion for journalism.’
The 13-chapter volume narrates editorial organizational working of two prominent dailies, NYT, WasPo, and three media upstarts, Buzz Feed, Facebook and The Vice. It follows the pattern of a media classic of yesteryears, The Powers That Be (1979) by David Halberstam, the ‘x-ray study of power of media’.

Besides having functioned on senior editorial position in NYT, being associated with The Wall Street Journal and the London daily, The Guardian, Abramson had ample experience of reporting for print media; but as digital newsroom was emerging fast, and had almost over-run the print regime. With internet meteorically revolutionizing media, readership for the print plummeted; everyone felt the pinch of losing ad. dollars. Concerted effort to generate reader-centered stuff was the answer.

This book has made the author a memorable figure in the media scenario. The Merchants of Truth is a required to be read for the graduate media studies programme which Abramson is directing at Harvard University. She’s is also doing a column for The Guardian.

It was then that the change set in:The“news being coloured by crass commercialization... while Trump called the journalists enemies of the people... and Trump becoming financial gold of many news organizations, including NYT.” The media ethics were loosening; media upstarts making fast dollars. The newspaper digitization eclipsed the print incarnation. Both the dailies also started resorting to the new reigning technology to regain their disappearing readers...

Meanwhile, one day, NYT publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, called Jill Abramson, “handed me the press release announcing that I had decided to leave The Times ...I looked him straight in the eye and said, ‘Arthur, I have devoted my entire career to telling the truth, and I won’t agree to this press release. I am going to say I have been fired.’” Jill Abramson had missed Sulzberger’s earlier clues in this regard.

The monster of losing circulation and ad. bucks also had dealt fatal blows to Was Po; it changed hands. It was purchased by billionaire Jeff Bezos,Amazon tech giant. The Post’s new owner took to ‘clickbait’, putting out stories easy to be read ‘across the platforms.’

The formula worked.Though Abramson felt profusely sorry witnessing ‘print losing ground for the modern news’, but digitization has survived and changed thenews business once for all times.

This book has made the author a memorable figure in the media scenario. The Merchants of Truth is a required to be read for the graduate media studies programme which Abramson is directing at Harvard University. She’s is also doing a column for The Guardian.

Finally, the author as an ace professional has competently answered critical questions the media is grappling with: ‘What’s the future of the news?’ ‘Will the public trust in the news media be restored?’“How can the press better coverage of a president ensure (in this case Donald Trump) who calls reporters as ‘enemies of the public?’ ’’Abramson has left an extemporaneous question to be pondered over. “I didn’t think technological change should sweep in moral change. I fought back. Perhaps my principles were too rigid...perhaps to save NYT the old structures needed to be relaxed.” Not really!

For, there’s precious little hope for such ideals to survive vis-a-vis the current titanic technology.