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Hard News: Twenty-one Brutal Months at The New York Times and How They Changed the American Media

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  144 ratings  ·  22 reviews
On May 11, 2003, The New York Times devoted four pages of its Sunday paper to the deceptions of Jayson Blair, a mediocre former Times reporter who had made up stories, faked datelines, and plagiarized on a massive scale. The fallout from the Blair scandal rocked the Times to its core and revealed fault lines in a fractious newsroom that was already close to open revolt.

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Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 9th 2005 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

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Ryan
Completely compelling story. Fascinating look into the newspaper world. I do have to warn anyone ordering this through Amazon.com - because I ordered it, I was recommended a "Mr. Big FlexoFlesh Realistic Dildo (Mulato)" (I still have the screen grab because I thought it was so funny) - I couldn't tell if it was just because the word Hard was in the title, or if Amazon was insinuating a lifestyle suggestion for a woman ordering a non-fiction book about the New York Times. Either way they really n ...more
Kirsti
I thought this was a book about the Jayson Blair scandal (in which it turned out that a Times reporter had not only plagiarized other reporters but also sometimes failed to even make it to the scene where he was supposedly reporting from). Then I thought it was about Howell Raines, the brilliant but flawed executive editor who tried to make the Times submit to his cult of personality. Finally I realized that the book is actually about how highly intelligent and well-meaning people can make decis ...more
Mitchell Hahn-Branson
A clear, fair-minded, sharply written account of the 2001–2003 mismanagement of The New York Times and its consequences, including but not limited to the infamous behavior of one Jayson Blair. Mnookin uses the history of the paper (and of American journalism in general), firsthand interviews, and contemporary news accounts to give us a good context for understanding how the country's most respected paper, with all its money and resources, could be fooled and manipulated by a disturbed, charismat ...more
BooksAndTea
Is this The New York TImes or Game of Thrones? After the relatively recent scandal of the firing of Jill Abramson, it seemed like this would be a good book to add to my list. It was branded as a book about the Jayson Blair saga--a young black reporter who was found to have plagiarized MANY of his articles for the NYT. However, the book was not quite that and it was really more as a story of the Howell Raines time as executive editor (during Blair's time there and would lead to his downfall).

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Mona
I wanted to read all the details about the Jayson Blair scandal and how it could have happened at the premier newspaper in America. It took a hundred pages in before we got to it. I understand why we needed all the background, but there were so many names and issues to wade through. In fact the book was so full of briefly mentioned staffers that I kept wanting depth on the main players. Perhaps one could liken it to the scrolling down the nearly endless list of every single person who worked on ...more
Noah
If you're looking for an accessible book about the changing nature of the news industry, this isn't it. This book is pure inside baseball, a detailed retracing of what happened in the NYT newsroom in the years post-9/11, with particular attention to the Jayson Blair scandal. I enjoyed it a lot, but it's definitely not for everyone.
Adam
great news-dork read. loved the postmodern writing (this book) about writing (NYT self reporting) about writing (Jayson Blair's fabrications). Also a great business story about the imperious leadership of Howell Raines. And caused me to take a step back and realize how much I love the NYT and how important it is to my life, and possibly to the world's life. Glad it's surviving in this brave new world.
Amy
Reminded of this book after watching a recent documentary on Jayson Blair in which Seth Mnookin, the author of Hard News, was interviewed. I remember really enjoying this book. It is a cautionary tale and a disaster dissection. I am inspired to reread it again soon.
Erica Verrillo
I literally could not put this book down. Seth Mnookin's Hard News is absolutely captivating. Even though we all know the outcome of Jason Blair's enormous fraud by now, Mnookin manages to make the tale so engrossing that you find yourself enmeshed in it right from the start. Mnookin's prose is like looking into a perfectly clear pool of water, and his honest, in-depth portrayal of the embattled Times manages to be both sympathetic and critical. I look forward to reading anything Mnookin chooses ...more
Jennifer
A fascinating look at a little-seen world, at least for most of us. It is gripping-- I had a bit of trouble putting the book down. Don't be fooled-- this book, though about the newspaper business and the media as a whole-- is a page-turner.
Therman Lee
A bit repetitive and chronologically difficult to follow. Mnookin does a great job of pulling readers into the story, making them sympathetic to the reporters and the conditions they were in in the year following 9/11.
Morgan
The details of the story about Jayson Blair (what a kook!) in this book are reason enough to warrant its purchase, but the rest of it is top-notch as well. I'm hoping it becomes a movie one day. (book-rights pending)
Emily Rueb
I loved it because it was sensational. My editors say that it was exaggerated, but I have yet to read a more complete story of the Raines era at The Times.
Ben
I really enjoyed this read. At the time I was working as a journalist, but it doesn't seem like it was written to appeal to people outside the media.
Toph
Apr 16, 2008 Toph rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: News Scholars
Shelves: own
Fairly good book, not a terribly slow read. Interesting if you are interested in the news media, the New York Times, or Howell Raines.
Chuck

The best media book I've read in a very long while (although the writer's objectivity seems to wane down the stretch).
Amy
An interesting book. Much more interesting when you're working at the Times. I'd recommend it to anyone who's new here.
Kevin
Extremely good look into the problems of ethics that face even the most prestigious of news outlets.
Patrick
I was there. He gets a lot of stuff wrong, but I guess the gist is here. Take it with a grain of salt.
Phil
Even the most hard-core newspaper has scandal and the New York Times has had plenty. The cover may look plain but this reads like a soap opera.....and that's a good thing.
Tracy
Fascinating.
vanessa
my favorite!
Mpho3
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Since 2005, Seth has been a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, where he’s written about the American media presence in Iraq, Bloomberg News, and Stephen Colbert. In 2002 and 2003, he was a senior writer at Newsweek, where he wrote the media column “Raw Copy” and also covered politics and popular culture.

He graduated from Harvard College in 1994 with a degree in History and Science, and was a 2004
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