READ ALL ABOUT IT! by James D. Squires


The Corporate Takeover of America's Newspapers
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 A trenchant and disturbing analysis of the transformation of newspapers from gatherers of news to profitable corporate assets, by the former editor of the Chicago Tribune. While sometimes reflecting outmoded attitudes--journalism is ``an oasis in the desert of capitalism''--Squires writes from a position of authority. The successful editor of the Orlando Sentinel and then of the Chicago Tribune at the time it won its battle with the Chicago Sun-Times, he describes himself in these posts as ``probably the most corporational, the least rigid, the most likely to compromise in the interest of getting all the masters served''; and yet he has become increasingly concerned by the changes in the newspaper industry. When he was first named an editor, in 1976, the average editorial department's share of revenue was 13-15 percent; today it's 10 percent at a good newspaper. Newspapers, Squires believes, no longer compete to produce the best journalism--which he defines as the most accurate portrayal of reality--but compete for the attention of consumers: ``What people want to read, watch and listen to is now more important in the evaluation of `news' than any of the more traditional considerations.'' The rot began, in Squire's view, with the triumph of the views of Al Neuharth of Gannett, who began hosting dinners for analysts and touting the contribution of newspapers to the bottom line. Increasingly, the author says, the notion of the separation between editorial and business has disappeared, other than in a few family-owned newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post. The ``dirty little secret'' is that newspapers don't want circulation: They want advertising. Squires concludes that newspapers are becoming indistinguishable from any other business, and that they are losing the basic justification for their existence. A bleak view of the press by one who's in a position to know.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-8129-2101-1
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1992


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