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Morning Miracle: Inside the Washington Post A Great Newspaper Fights for Its Life 1St Edition Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0385523561
ISBN-10: 0385523564
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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; 1St Edition edition (July 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385523564
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385523561
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,666,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Hardcover
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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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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