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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars insightful collection of articles
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.
Published on January 6, 2004 by Pammy

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite dated but retains some value
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...
Published on February 26, 2006 by Jonathan Groner


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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars insightful collection of articles, January 6, 2004
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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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Analysis of Contemporary News Media, August 17, 2004
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite dated but retains some value, February 26, 2006
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars McCandlish Phillips.The Reporter Who Disappeared, November 29, 2009
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This review is from: Backstory: Inside the Business of News (Paperback)
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.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Get Me Rewrite!, February 3, 2005
This review is from: Backstory: Inside the Business of News (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.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well worth your time, February 2, 2004
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B. A Varkentine (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good quality and a good book, April 5, 2008
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This was the only book out of 7 that I actually enjoyed reading in my rhetoric class.
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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read! Gets you the inside story!, January 18, 2004
I saw a story about this book on PBS and was intrigued to read it. It was worth it! It lets you know the true inside story about the media and the problems they have critizing their stories enough.
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16 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very interesting overview, January 6, 2004
By A Customer
I happen to know that the one-star review written from "somewhere in Maine" was in fact written by Michael Wolff, who has a competitive book out now that's flopping badly. Pathetic.
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8 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Online reviews are worthless, January 27, 2004
By A Customer
Read what is written below... enough said.
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Backstory: Inside the Business of News
Backstory: Inside the Business of News by Ken Auletta (Paperback - December 28, 2004)
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