Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Morning Miracle: Inside The Washington Post: A Great Newspaper Fights For Its Life

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he gives us detailed bios of some of its great reporters and the stories that made them famous, stories that could not be published in today’s environment.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.

Kindred ends his story with the election night coverage in the newsroom of Obama’s historic election. What that has to do with the negative revenues at The Post and the minimum profits of its website, is left up to the reader.

This book is more than a disappointment. The stories between the covers have nothing to do with the title on the front. It can’t even be called a very rough first draft. It doesn’t hold together at all. It appears to be parts of several different books thrown together with the only unifying theme that they are all about The Washington Post.

Somebody call rewrite.

Review copy courtesy of Doubleday Publishing

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