Backstory: Inside the Business of News and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy Used
$3.70
Condition: Used: Like New
Comment: Clean and solid. Minor shelf wear.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Backstory: Inside the Business of News Hardcover – December 25, 2003


See all 10 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover, December 25, 2003
$0.84 $0.01

Best Books of the Year
See the Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The; First Edition edition (December 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594200009
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594200007
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,761,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Like Auletta's earlier The Highwaymen, this is a collection of the author's work as media correspondent for the New Yorker, but the focus has shifted away from the individual toward the institutional. The book starts with a 2002 profile of then New York Times executive editor Howell Raines, depicting his attempts to redefine the paper's approach to journalism and foreshadowing his departure in the aftermath of the Jayson Blair scandal. Because of Raines's notoriety, it's an obvious choice to lead off with, but that decision affects the meta-narrative running through the book's first half. A string of articles dealing with newspapers around the country (including a look at New York's battling tabloids that didn't make it into the New Yorker because it wasn't "colorful" enough) examines the tension between editorial and business concerns, culminating in a 1993 look at the Times with open speculation about who would succeed the person who held the job before Raines and what it might mean for the newsroom. Alas, the moving profile of former Times reporter John McCandlish Phillips, who abandoned a promising career in journalism to devote himself to Christian evangelism, seems out of place amid the corporate chronicles. Yet its significance becomes clearer as subsequent pieces emphasize the growing lack of humility among contemporary journalists. Two final stories look at media startups that failed (Inside.com) and succeeded (Fox News), the latter bringing us up-to-date with the network's coverage of the war in Iraq. By putting these articles together, Auletta provides a valuable perspective on how the pressures of business have affected how we read and watch the news.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Auletta, whose previous books include Greed and Glory on Wall Street and World War 3.0, is concerned about how the publishing industry affects the practice of journalism, in theory not beholden to profits and losses. Most critics agree that Backstory is a provocative if uneven collection that shows a serious understanding of the trade. Auletta's best pieces examine controversial figures such as Raines and Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. His less successful ones delve into the grisly (and possibly soporific) details of the business and meander off into unrelated topics. (One interesting but irrelevant article features a reporter who abandoned journalism for religion.) Still, this is Journalism 101 straight from the horse's mouth, with a small (very small) silver lining: if you become a journalist, you might also become famous.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Pammy on January 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Insightful collection of articles which explores the state of journalism by focusing on individual newspapers and news companies. Most of these articles have been published over the years in the New Yorker, but the collection gives a perceptive overview of the journalistic world that so influences public perceptions of world events.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Frequent readers of The New Yorker are already familiar with Auletta's brilliant essays on the news media. What we have here in this volume are several of his best, all but one of which previously appeared in that magazine. Specific subjects include the Howell Raines "doctrine" during his tenure at the New York Times, Mark H. Willes' major reorganization of that newspaper, initiatives within the Tribune Company to achieve organizational synergies, the "tabloid wars" waged by the New York Daily News and the New York Post, Arthur M. Sulzberger, Jr.'s "Outward Bound Adventure" at the New York Times, a profile of John McCandlish Phillips, Jr. ("the reporter who disappeared"), an explanation of how and why "fee speech" could corrupt "journalism's claim to public trust," a profile of Don Imus, an examination of the life and death of Inside.com, and an analysis of the creation, emergence, and impact of Fox News.

However, Auletta's primary objective is to answer questions such as these:

1. What is the proper role of the news media?
2. How has that role changed during the last decade? Why?
3. What are the nature and extent of the impact of business considerations on the selection, articulation, and provision of news?

Auletta's thinking and writing have exceptional rigor, focus, and clarity. Yes, we learn a great deal about the individuals and organizations on which he focuses in this volume but its much greater value (to me) is derived from his thoughtful and eloquent responses to the questions posed earlier.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Groner VINE VOICE on February 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
Although Auletta often displays a sprightly prose style, this book is sadly dated. This is good magazine journalism, that's all -- not a collection of personal essays with a distinctive voice. The reader often feels as if he is reading a three-year-old issue of the New Yorker, which is probably what he is doing.

Backstory does have the ironic virtue of freezing for all time some of the ephemeral visions of the brief dot-com era. The chapter on Inside.com, where all too much good money was chasing all too many bad ideas, is worth the book's cover price. The media and business worlds have moved on since then, for better and for worse, but one can occasionally find some pleasure in recalling the "next big thing" as perceived in the year 2000.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By olingerstories on November 29, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hands down the best article, in fact alone worth the price of the book is Auletta's look at McCandlish Phillips, the superstar reporter for the NY TIMES who walked away from the paper for a preaching ministry in 1973. Identified by Gay Talese as the only reporter he thought was above him at the TIMES, Phillips's gift was combining factual accuracy with penetrating human interest insights. Auletta moves from Phillips beginnings, to his breaking of his biggest stories, to his self-conscious move into near poverty and total obscurity. Unthinkable that any media star would do that then, even more so today, Auletta brings to the forefront the fact that Phillips is all the happier and content for the change. Brilliant, insightful reporting.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bradley F. Smith on February 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
This collection of articles, most originally published in The New Yorker, paint an interesting inside look at some of the more powerful big media players. Unfortunately, most of the material is outdated, having been superceded by events such as Tribune Co.'s acquisition of Times-Mirror, the forced resignation of Howell Raines at the New York Times after the Jason Blair scandal and the emergence of Fox as a one-sided cable news operation no longer bothering to masquerade as objective. Auletta stitches the pieces together with a few short paragraphs between each one, attempting to bring the reader up to date. Had he taken more than the few minutes of time which writing that material must have consumed and attempted to revise his old articles a bit more, the worth of his collection might have been improved. As it stands, it's already a period piece.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. A Varkentine on February 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Auletta is one of the best thoughtful, dare I say, "fair and balanced" writers of media criticism out there. I can't see how very many people could argue with his findings, even if it casts them in a bad light, they are well documented and sourced.
Media has been and is in a state of flux if not outright crisis since the late '90s, and though Auletta may not have a crystal ball, he is better than most at reading a map.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

More About the Author

Ken Auletta has written the Annals of Communications column for The New Yorker since 1992. He is the author of eight books, including THREE BLIND MICE: How the TV Networks Lost Their Way; GREED AND GLORY ON WALL STREET: The Fall of The House of Lehman; and WORLD WAR 3.0: Microsoft and Its Enemies. In naming him America's premier media critic, the Columbia Journalism Review said, "no other reporter has covered the new communications revolution as thoroughly as has Auletta." He lives in Manhattan with his wife and daughter.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?