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Morning Miracle: Inside the Washington Post A Great Newspaper Fights for Its Life [Hardcover]

by Dave Kindred
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 20, 2010 0385523564 978-0385523561 0
An in-depth look at the Washington Post from a Pulitzer Prize–nominated Post veteran. Morning Miracle definitively answers the question “Do newspapers still matter?” with a resounding yes.

What The Kingdom and the Power did for the New York Times, Morning Miracle will do for the Washington Post. A reporter for more than forty years, Dave Kindred takes you inside the heart of the legendary newspaper and offers a unique opportunity to see what it really takes to produce world-class journalism every day.

Granted unprecedented access to every nook and cranny of the paper, including candid exchanges with its most celebrated journalists, such as Bob Woodward, Sally Quinn, David Broder, and former executive editor Ben Bradlee (who gave the book its title), Kindred provides a no-holds-barred look at the twenty-first-century newsroom. As it becomes more difficult to maintain journalistic integrity, stay relevant in the age of blogs, and meet Wall Street’s demands for profits, the newspaper—more than any other medium—also shoulders the tremendous responsibility of acting as a watchdog for democracy.

Perhaps no one sums up the overwhelming challenges that face the Post and its power to endure better than the author himself: “It is still a miracle that you can put 700 overcaffeinated misfits in a newsroom, on deadline, adrenaline running, secrets to spill, and before midnight a messenger delivers a smoking-hot city edition to Don Graham’s manse in Georgetown.”

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Despite its storied history—award-winning coverage of Watergate and of the abuses of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital—the Washington Post has been subject to the same challenges that are killing newspapers across the nation: plummeting circulation and loss of revenue to Internet advertising. What’s worse for the Post is that in the mid-1990s, at a pivotal point before the Internet became widely public, a brave few of its staff pushed management to consider a major investment in going digital. The moment passed as management pressed ahead with the old model of print journalism, still winning Pulitzers as it lost readers. Kindred, with 45 years experience reporting for newspapers and magazines, brings passion, insight, empathy, and a critical eye—as well as great access to Post reporters and management, including Ben Bradlee, Bob Woodward, David Broder, and Dana Priest—to this completely engrossing look at the decline of a great newspaper. Reporters recall the golden moments of their careers when the risks to life and limb were justified by spectacular reporting that proved the higher aspirations of journalism. They also recall newsroom turmoil as management struggled to stay ahead of the inevitable in the most chaotic period in American journalism. Sad and delightful at the same time. --Vanessa Bush


"[Kindred] brings passion, insight, empathy, and a critical eye—as well as great access to Post reporters and management, including Ben Bradlee, Bob Woodward, David Broder, and Dana Priest—to this completely engrossing look at the decline of a great newspaper.... Sad and delightful at the same time."
—Booklist, starred review

"A fine piece of writing and reporting."
—The Atlantic

"Maybe it's only a newspaper, but Morning Miracle is one of those wistful love stories filled with as much foreboding as tenderness."
—Frank Deford, NPR commentator, "Morning Edition"
"This is a book about reporting and reporters. The best reporter involved in it is the one writing it. Through his talent, his wit, and his uncommon humanity, Dave Kindred demonstrates a love for journalism as a job, as a craft, and, above all, as a calling. In fact, he loves it more than it probably deserves to be loved anymore."
—Charles P. Pierce, author of Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of The Free  

"There's always some guy in the newsroom who knows the real story."
—Roger Ebert

“Kindred’s book is the miracle, making this old New York Times man wish he had spent at least one shining moment in the heartbreaking romance of the Washington Post.”
Robert Lipsyte, former New York Times sports columnist and author of An Accidental Sportswriter 

"Dave Kindred combines a deep love of daily journalism with a sports writer’s narrative skill to tell a powerful story of one newspaper struggling to keep its trademark standards and values intact into the Internet era.  If the time comes for the final obit to be written for print-on-paper newspapers, Kindred proves that he’s the guy who should write it."
—Bill Kovach, former New York Times Washington Bureau Chief

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (July 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385523564
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385523561
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,088,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whither the Washington Post? July 25, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dave Kindred's THE MORNING MIRACLE doesn't compare with Gay Talese's THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER, and isn't even the best book on the Washington Post (Katharine Graham's PERSONAL HISTORY), but it is a first-rate account of a venerable institution struggling to survive in the 21st century. The heroes are Post writers Dana Priest, Annie Hull, Anthony Shadid, Sally Jenkins and Gene Weingarten, individuals who see journalism more as a calling than a career. Walter Pincus is the old truth-telling prophet. Len Downie is revered as the near perfect editor. Ben Bradlee is almost made to walk on water. And yet, despite such talent, the Post is losing money on newsprint and the direction forward is murky, so much so that one Post writer suggests Kindred's title should be DYING WITH DIGNITY.

As Kindred focuses the story on the period of time between 2005-2008, the staff knows that beloved publisher, Don Graham, will do anything to keep the print side of the paper afloat. But, in seeing his personal (a divorce settlement) and professional (age) life slipping away, he believes that the only hope is to turn to youth for leadership, particularly niece Katharine Weymouth. Understanding the business side of the Post, and more aware of the importance of its online future, Weymouth is the logical successor. But, Kindred is not placated with the choice. He finds her oblivious to the decline of the quality of the Post as the staff shrinks through forced buyouts. And, worse still, he knows that she has no ear for words, no sense of the history of print. She quotes Metro Columnist Marc Fisher as putting forth the Post's objective in a tidy fashion when he writes it is "to speak truth to power, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Somebody call rewrite! January 28, 2011
I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. Although not a reader of The Washington Post, I am well aware of the reputation of this great periodical and the legends who work there, both past and present. How is it faring in an era when newsprint is being steadily replaced by websites and blogs? How is it changing to meet these challenges?

Author Dave Kindred first takes us through the early years of The Post. And that is where he lost me. His sketches of people and events seemed, well, sketchy as if whole chunks of time and information were being left out. Was he assuming a lot of knowledge on the part of his readers, knowledge that I didn't have, or was he writing for insiders, professional newspapermen and women who don't need a lot of details or groundwork to understand how The Post became a world-class institution?

Then he switched gears. In an effort to illustrate the changes at The Post, he gives us detailed bios of some of its great reporters and the stories that made them famous, stories that could not be published in today's environment. At least I think that's what he was trying to convey. There was so much information about the reporters and so little information about the newspaper that I had to keep checking the bookcover to reassure myself that the title was "Morning Miracle: Inside The Washington Post" and not "Morning Miracle: Reporters Whose Work I Admire".

Thrown into the mix at seemingly random intervals are tidbits about The Post website; how it came to exist, how it has changed, and who has worked on it. While he notes that the revenue stream has grown over the years, he does not go into any detail of how this occurred or future plans to grow this revenue.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fellow "newsie" October 4, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As someone who is a retireeof this wonderful newspaper, I can never read too many "Post" books. A great job of telling the srory of a great newspaper.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In 2008, San Francisco Chronicle managing editor Robert Rosenthal said the newspaper industry and the institution of journalism was caught up "in the greatest upheaval they had ever known."

The internet had started the greatest revolution in communications since the Guttenberg press. From 2004-2008, 100,000 newspaper jobs were lost and 10 newspaper chains declared bankruptcy.

From 2007-2009, the Washington Post lost $359 million. It's against this backdrop that Dave Kindred, a former Post sports columnist, wrote Morning Miracle, which he describes as a book "about a great newspaper doing its damnest to get out of the mess alive."

Four years before the Internet became a widely used public tool, reporter Bob Kaiser issued a memo in 1992 to all the Post leaders that reflected the new-found belief that newspapers must join the electronics revolution immediately. It became known as the "boiling frog" memo.

In 1994, the Post's circulation dropped for the first time in 40 years. The newspaper's glory days were starting to end. The days of 700 reporters on staff, a $100 million budget and news bureaus around the world were about to become a thing of the past.

In June 1996, almost four years after the "boiling frog" memo, the Post launched [...] The website was a high stakes gamble, one that required $200 million to gain profitability.

Steve Coll, one of the paper's top editors, wrote in 1999 that the biggest challenge for reporters and editors "involves adapting our work to [...] formats that emphasize speed, active interaction with readers and a new synthesis of words, pictures and sounds." He termed the Post, as it existed, to be "an idealistic editor's most extravagant imagination." He warned that it would never last forever.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting look "between the pages" at WaPo
I thoroughly enjoyed Kindred's anecdotes of the people who've worked at the Washington Post over the years. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Andrea
5.0 out of 5 stars A great inside story of a great newspaper's hard times
As a retired reporter--not for the Post--and a regular Post subscriber since 1982, I was fascinated by the inside story and the well-drawn descriptions of writers and editors whose... Read more
Published 13 months ago by John C. Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars Requiem for a once great paper
Dave Kindred shows the Washington Post at its best, at its worst, and at points in between as it struggles for its very survival. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Ruben Castaneda
5.0 out of 5 stars A Miracle
Atlanta, Georgia- Ben Bradlee who was the executive editor of the Washington Post stated that "We ought to call this thing, "The Morning Miracle. Read more
Published on December 26, 2011 by Dr. Wilson Trivino
4.0 out of 5 stars Fighting to Save The Washington Post
I just couldn't wait to read this book when I saw it. I've been a news junkie all my life; came by it naturally since my mother was too. Read more
Published on January 18, 2011 by Barbara J. Mitchell
4.0 out of 5 stars Gee the news business changed
With his usual easy going prose kindred demonstrates how the newspaper we are accustomed to reading will no longer be the same. Read more
Published on January 15, 2011 by mj deneen
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent book
excellent book-outstanding description of history of paper and TV stations-great review of problems surrounding Kaplan and colleges- great Amazon product
Published on November 14, 2010 by Rudolf M Hahnloser
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't blame Craigs List.
Don't blame Craigs List. They were simply first. Online auto websites would've taken away the new car advertising, weekly PDF ads beat out 4/c double truck Macy's ads, and I... Read more
Published on October 4, 2010 by Thomas J. Sakell
3.0 out of 5 stars Journalism and the future
This book reiterates the fact that good journalism is part and parcel of a thriving democracy. The Washington Post has provided that many times over the years and the author gives... Read more
Published on October 1, 2010 by Mike B
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Miracle
AS a Washingtonian of many years and a lover of the Washington Post, I devoured this paean to my hometown paper. Read more
Published on September 10, 2010 by Stoupa
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