Chatty albeit informative profiles of newspaper-based media empires--as Cose (a former president of the Institute for Journalism Education) singles out just five industry giants for detailed attention: Washington Post Co.; the Los Angeles-based Times Mirror Co.; N.Y. Times Co.; Gannett Co.; and Knight-Ridder Inc. Arguably, all rank among the fourth estate's most influential enterprises. Conspicuous by their absence, though, are the puissant likes of Affiliated Publications Inc. (Boston Globe), Dow Jones & Co. (Wall Street Journal), News Corp. (of Rupert Murdoch fame), Reuters Holdings plc, and Tribune Co. (Chicago Trib, N. Y. Daily News). At any rate, the author focuses on how founding-family or professional management has guided each of his chosen corporations through the turbulent events of the past quarter century to its present eminence. In the process, he offers a wealth of ad rem yarns about a host of colorful proprietors, star correspondents, and exacting editors. Cases in point range from Kay Graham's decision to follow the lead of the N. Y. Times in publishing the Pentagon Papers, Ben Bradlee's helling around with JFK, Abe Rosenthal's run-ins with Ted Bernstein as he fought to make the good gray Times a more stylish entry, and Otis Chandler's resolve to achieve world-class greatness for his flagship daily through A1 Neuharth's stop-at-nothing campaign to make a go of USA Today. And never losing sight of the fact that big-time news-gathering organizations are economic as well as sociopolitical entities, Cose accords almost equal attention to the business side of the favored fire's operations. Thus, he covers not only their efforts to ensure orderly executive-suite successions but also individual responses to the demands of unions, institutional investors, and other constituencies, including minority employees. While the author's vivid, anecdotal accounts are longer on reportage than analysis, they afford entertaining as well as enlightening briefings on consequential concerns that have a big say in setting the nation's agenda.