Book Review: ‘Merchants of Truth: Inside The News Revolution’ by Jill Abramson

The media landscape, in New Zealand and globally, has found itself in a state of change – being moulded to meet the demands of the public’s interest. And the rise of digital media has left new and eminent, well-established publications in a state of disarray.

The notable – and somewhat infamous – former New York Times Executive Editor, Jill Abramson’s recently released her book “Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts”. It details the disruption of the news media over the last decade or so, following the largest media outlets – the established New York Times and The Washington Post and upstarts Buzzfeed and VICE. Abramson uses this book to highlight the ramifications of this digital uprising on the foundations of journalism and the media landscape as well as the adaptability that these companies have displayed. Abramson also focuses in on the advertising that has infiltrated the Fourth Estate, and begun to erode the industry’s claim of unbiased truth telling.

As it hit the shelves, Abramson’s publication was the centre of a wave of controversy, with an influx of accusations of plagiarism where passages had been lifted from other sources, some word-for-word from other journalists and other segments had not been properly attributed to their original authors. However, Abramson maintains that she made sure she accurately cited the hundreds of sources that build the bulk of her book. Controversy aside, the book provides in-depth insights into the inner workings of today’s media and its changes, newsroom dynamics, and how the news continues to be a vital part of the fabric of our society. A must read!