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Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  364 ratings  ·  82 reviews
The definitive report on the disruption of the news media over the last decade. With the expert guidance of former Executive Editor of The New York Times Jill Abramson, we follow two legacy (The New York Times and The Washington Post) and two upstart (BuzzFeed and VICE) companies as they plow through a revolution in technology, economics, standards, commitment, and ...more
ebook, 544 pages
Published February 5th 2019 by Simon & Schuster
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Apr 24, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: beware
Jill Abramson, or her assistant who probably wrote most of the book, examines the bowels of media management-coverage, a worthy topic, which engages many GRs, and why not? The problem, given my rapacious scrutiny, is that far too much of her cultivated "research" is swiped from other writers in other publications : ethics and accuracy be damned. The insulted lady, a fired NYT editor, now teaches at Harvard. Something is very cockeyed with this picture.
Mónica BQ
Feb 07, 2019 marked it as odio-jarocho-aka-nope  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autor-caca

"*All three* chapters on Vice were clotted with mistakes. Lots of them. The truth promised in Merchants of Truth was often not true. While trying to corroborate certain claims, I noticed that it also contained...plagiarized passages."

From Michael C. Moynihan's Twitter. Read the full thread.

"THREAD: Jill Abramson plagiarized me at least seven times in her new book, Merchants of Truth."

From Ian Frisch's Twitter. Read the full thread.

Some other background info.

Jill Abramson's response.

Peter Mcloughlin
This book covers the transformation of the news industry (the normal one not Fox) and its transition to digital platforms. It features innovators like Buzzfeed and Vice as they pioneered models for news in the digital age. It also covers the travails of NYT and Washington Post as they struggled to survive in the new online world. Papers had to innovate to the clickbait online culture while maintaining their integrity or perceived integrity as they moved into this world. It covers the news ...more
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been a New York Times subscriber, in Arizona, for over 25 years. I have been an on-and-off Washington Post subscriber during that time, mostly for work, now for personal interest. When I first began, the ability to learn what was happening outside of AZ, in any depth, was exciting beyond belief. With the advent of internet connectivity, these sources offer curated views of the wider world that I deeply value. So, my interest in how they got from the early 1990’s to here is both personal ...more
Scott Wilson
Feb 19, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Is a one-star review fair if I skimmed this book and didn't take it in fully?


But we're all past fairness by now, aren't we?

Abramson seems to be, given the defensive posture she has assumed in interviews following an embarrassing run of plagiarism revelations. The kindest thing that can be said about the A-B comparisons on offer is that one or more researchers helping her to crank out this book failed to document every borrowed thought or paraphrased sentence.

But we're all past kindness by
Peter O'Kelly
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book met with both pre- and post-publication controversy, and will soon be revised to correct quote attribution, but if you look beyond the editing-related issues, I believe the book is an excellent and timely review of how journalism rapidly evolved over the last couple decades, including an insightful assessment of the influence of Facebook and Google.

Some related resources to consider:
• Positive reviews
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Edited: I’m really disappointed to see all the accusations of sloppiness and plagiarism in this book. I’ve not chosen to change my original rating, but I will be interested to see how it all plays out.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster and Netgalley for the advanced copy of this nonfiction book. This is a wonderful work of research addressing the digital revolution in media and its specific impacts on BuzzFeed, Vice, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. Thank you to Jill Abramson for writing
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a lot of controversy surrounding this book--on sources and whether she can be objective. I thought the book was really interesting--I don't know about the plagiarism claims and I never assume a writer can be objective. I learned a lot about Buzzfeed and Vice and a little more about the Post and the Times. I think the book works better as a history than it does as an analysis or prognostication. Yes, Buzzfeed and Vice knocked the Times and Post off their pedestals slightly, but that is ...more
Megan Johnson
boycotting the last 100 pages bc Im sick of reading about buzzfeed
Sonya Dutta Choudhury
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
There is a scandal around this book. But here's why you should read it anyway -

Author Abramson tells the inside stories of the NY Times & the Washington Post, Buzzfeed & Vice.

How Pulitzer prizes stories are reported , how viral videos are made, news scoops , business troubles , Jeff Bezos buying the Post, even her personal story of being fired by the Times, it's all here.

Also insights about how to succeed in media, how to use data analytics, how to make peace with sponsored content and
Finished: 07.02.2019
Genre: non-fiction
Rating: NO SCORE

I'm being brutally honest
..I wanted to love this book because I am a news-junkie.
I thought I would enjoy knowing more about
Buzzfeed and Vice...but the selections were bland.
Techies are bringing entertainment not news.
Buzz staying within boundaries but Vice pushing the limits of 'edgy'.
Even the chapters about NYT and
Washington Post in part one could not
'hook' me into reading any further.
Old school established customs/conservatism
I was excited to hear about this book and add it to my TBR. Then reports of segments of the book that resembled other writers' works erupted. I saw the author interviewed and refusing to call the problem "plagiarism" insisting that she would not have even called it that if one of the reporters under her supervision would have done this while she was at The New York Times. Her protests of carelessness, not plagiarism felt untrue to me, but still I read the book.
I'm glad I did since there was a
I was about three quarters of the way through this book when I learned about the accusations of plagiarism/footnote errors and inaccurate portrayals of new media figures leveled at Jill Abramson. I decided to push through, but this ratcheted up my feelings of mistrust and downgraded the quality of my reading experience. I went into it understanding Abramson’s background would color the work, but these issues moved the book from colored to compromised for me.

I worry that her overall point about
This book is dense. There is a lot of information and it isn't the most readable. The vibe was very textbook. While comprehensive, there are more illuminating books out there. And some that are a little less controversial. I wanted more analysis and less of the play-by-play recent history. I'm aware this doesn't always come naturally to an old-school journalist who deals in hard facts, but a book (especially one 500 pages long) isn't always just about presenting the facts. It's a deep dive and ...more
Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts by Jill Abramson, narrated by January LaVoy.
In this non-fiction presentation, Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times, who has been accused of plagiarism, attempts to explain what has happened to the print news industry and why. Using the New York Times, the Washington Post, Vice and Buzzfeed as primary examples, she shows how the digital news platform has been the catalyst for the demise of the print newspaper
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Merchants of Truth is a bit of a fractured book, and what I mean is that the author tackles too much in it. It is a long book with big ambitions that could easily have been two books with two objectives, which is what I believe this book is. It held my attention pretty well which is why I feel it's a 4-star book. I've read other reviews speaking to the accuracy of some of the facts the author offers. Without getting into that, I think this book's strength is in giving a recent history of how ...more
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been questioning lately how the new became entertainment and more biased than in the past. When I was on the school paper, there were definite rules of journalism: who, what , when and where with no editorial except on the op-ed page. However, over time we have seen that objectivity erode. I blamed it on so many 24 hour new programs attempting to keep viewers interested. The change was much more insidious. I knew vey little about how Buzzfeed and Vice News got their starts. I found this a ...more
Ronald Aylward
The history of the four news businesses is well written and gives you an insiders view of the current state of news the United States. However, it does not look at the state of global news and made no projections for the future.
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Also known as "why you should subscribe to your local newspaper along with the NYT and Wapo". Loved this one, listened to the audio-book.
Phil Simon
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm aware of the controversy surrounding this book and the author herself has admitted to making some mistakes. Regardless, hers is an important text in understanding current events, the need for a strong, independent media, the disruptive role of technology in society—you know, the little things.

I for one think that this is an incredibly important book—one that every concerned member of society ought to read. Nothing less than the future of democracy is at stake if we fail to support
Lee Woodruff
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As the executive editor of the New York Times, Jill Abramson was on the front lines of journalism as the fault lines were appearing in the old world order. With a reporter’s eye for detail, Abramson chronicles the trials and financial tribulations of both the NYT and the Washington Post as they missed opportunities afforded by the internet and digital age. New media darlings Buzzfeed and hard-partying Vice Media, became billion dollar companies in a matter of years as they forged new business ...more
Edit: I wrote my review before reading anyone else's. After posting mine, I learned that there are some passages in this book that are, at best, not quoted or cited correctly, and at worst, directly plagiarized. As of 2/10/19 this still seems like an ongoing question, so just keep in mind that I wrote the below before being aware of that aspect.


I really enjoyed this book, as a history of the enormous changes that have taken place in journalism over the last decade. Abramson clearly put
Rebecca Chekouras
To paraphrase the David Byrne song, Well, how did we get here? Unarguably the most important question of the post-Obama era. Along comes Jill Abramson with part of the answer in her unnerving book, Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and The Fight for Facts (Simon & Schuster, 2019), a book I would have titled, Merchants of Truth and the Rise of the Lying Class. It’s tempting to blame a certain pathological liar and obstructer of justice in Washington. Not so fast, social media junky.

Mar 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, I’m from the old school of the printed newspaper page and having a difficult time accepting that the research/impartiality/independence that used to be reflected in the printed newspaper page is no longer there. It is the fault of those organizations that they were too soon to condemn the importance of online journalism and too late to catch up. I blame that completely on their elitism and arrogance, pretty much of which is the author’s message.

This book was very informative from a
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Merchants of Truth is a disturbing read.

The subtitle, “The Business of News and the Fight for Facts”, succinctly describes the takeaway from this 545 page book. And the first sentence of the book’s blurb warns that it is not a simple read: “The definitive report on the disruption of the news media over the last decade.”

Respected and experienced journalist Jill Abramson tackled this complex issue through exploring four major media organizations in depth: BuzzFeed, VICE, New York Times and
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can't say I enjoyed this overly long book which discusses the changing ways in which people are getting their news. Subscriptions to print media (newspapers) have been falling over the years, while more and more people are only getting their news from on-line sources and social media. In Merchants of Truth, Jill Abramson, a former NY Times editor, writes about her personal career at the Times, about the changes going on with print media and how they figured out how to compete in a digital ...more
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We are the world best leading online newspaper portal. You all are the most welcome in our newspaper.If you want to get regular newslatter from our newspaper, please go home page sports news and click the below subscribe button.

World News :
View FOX world news today for international news and videos from Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas. Visit world news reuters for up-to-the-minute news, breaking news, video, audio and feature stories.

Politics News :
Politics at FOX has
Josh Spilker
It's ironic when a well-known journalist commits plagiarism and sloppy fact-checking.

This was the case with this book.

Abramson attempts to detail how digital publishing and sharing has affected journalism. She focuses on 2 legacy publications (NYT & WashPo) and two newer ones (Buzzfeed, Vice).

She totally botched the Vice section (where most of the alleged/actual plagiarism occurred). Vice is mostly not a news publication (more like a magazine) and their journalism has really only taken
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll start by saying that I don't think a writer with about 75 pages of small-type end notes is really trying to plagiarize, and I do think that when you're working with a lot of sources, you might miss a thing or three. (In fact, one of her accusers said, and she just had me as a source at the end of her book in small print. LOL.)

But never mind that. Abramson's book is important, dealing with the rise of digital news, specifically using Vice and the Huffington Post as detailed examples, and
Georgette Taylor
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book covering the state of U.S. news gathering and dissemination over the last 10 years it so. Focuses on four companies in particular, two 'new' and two 'old' media. It's good on the rise of the upstarts and the dilemmas faced by the traditional newspaper industry as the wall between business and journalism has crumbled.

Oddly, where Abramson is perhaps at her least convincing is where she has to discuss her own years as editor of the New York Times. It's clear that in spite of her
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Goodreads Librari...: Correct page count 3 9 Aug 29, 2019 04:23PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Combine Editions - "Merchants of Truth" by Jill Abramson 2 19 Dec 08, 2018 05:36AM  

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Jill Abramson is a senior lecturer at Harvard University. She also writes a bi-weekly column for The Guardian about US politics. She spent seventeen years in the most senior editorial positions at The New York Times, where she was the first woman to serve as Washington bureau chief, managing editor, and executive editor. Before joining the Times, she spent nine years at The Wall Street Journal.
“Sulzberger staunchly defended Miller for not revealing her sources in service, he proclaimed, of the First Amendment protections given to reporters. He handed out “Free Judy” buttons while she was in jail. Her court case ended up hurting the news media’s long-held position that reporters are entitled to be shielded from being forced to testify.” 0 likes
“The amount of digital data produced worldwide in 2006 alone was three million times the material of all the books ever written.” 0 likes
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