Hard News: Twenty-one Brutal Months at The New York Times and How They Changed the American Media tells the story of how managerial dysfunction allowed reporter Jayson Blair to lie and plagiarize his way up the career ladder at The New York Times, and in the process deal a massive blow to the paper’s credibility.
While the purpose of the book is to explain how Blair’s misconduct managed to go undetected for as long as it did, he turns out to be a minor character, the troubled sociopath whose deeds brought a mighty institution to its knees, but who would not have been able to do what he did in a less dysfunctional setting.
The real story is about executive editor Howell Raines, and how his authoritarian (to put it mildly) leadership style created an atmosphere of fear, silence, and favoritism that provided a perfect opportunity for a character like Blair to exploit.
The hubris and arrogance exposed in Hard News is worthy of a Greek tragedy, and underlines how even an institution like The New York Times, with all the raw talent and dedication on hand, can be brought dangerously off-course by a single individual.
The book is well-written and moves along at a brisk space, painting the characters involved with vivid strokes.
Recommended reading not just for news junkies, but for anybody with an interest in business and leadership.
Posted Thursday, 25 May, 2006 by Nic Lindh
Another book roundup, including some stellar athletes and soldiers, what might be the most jaded, soul-weary protagonist ever, and some grimdark fantasy.
The Internet is getting creepy, and Nic is breaking out his tinfoil hat after newspaper paywalls push him over the edge.
Nic is tired of tech sites obsessing over Apple’s financials and business strategy. So very tired.
Nic reads a book about the processed food industry and is incensed.
Computers are complicated. This brings out the irrational in people.
Nic proposes the loan word Rechthaberei be incorporated into American English.
The Core Dump is back! Books were read during the hiatus. Includes The Coldest Winter, Oh, Myyy!, Tough Sh*t, The Revolution Was Televised, The Rook, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, Gun Machine, Fortress Frontier, Standing in Another Man’s Grave, and The Memory of Light.
This site will return in February.
From a true patriot to a world-weary detective, a dead god, and a civilization about to sublime from the galaxy, this book roundup spans the gamut. Includes Where Men Win Glory, Wild, Inside the Box, The Black Box, Three Parts Dead, Red Country, and The Hydrogen Sonata.
Springsteen gives a concert in Phoenix. It’s fantastic.