‘The Deal from Hell’ by James O’Shea

The subtitle of this book is “How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers.”

And that’s the story. While the rise of the Internet and the decline in the economy have done their damage to the newspaper industry in the last 20 years, it was Wall Street with its push, push, push for higher profits that has squeezed newspapers nearly dry.

O’Shea knows what he is talking about. He served as managing editor of the Chicago Tribune and, after the Tribune Company bought the L.A. Times, he became the third editor in two years at the L.A. Times.

He knew the top people who put the squeeze on the newsrooms. He himself got fired in L.A. for refusing to cut more and more staff.

Because he’s an experienced investigative journalist, his research is thorough and his writing is clear. He has words for the CEOs, the moguls who buy and sell newspapers, the publishers who don’t understand journalism: He calls them incompetent, corrupt, arrogant and greedy.

O’Shea takes the reader into the newsrooms and boardrooms of some of the greatest American newspapers and shows how news gathering and reporting have been changed by greedy non-journalists.

It’s an excellent read.

New York Times writer David Carr says pretty much the exact same thing in his Oct. 24  column.

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