Knightfall: Knight Ridder and How the Erosion of Newspaper Journalism Is Putting Democracy at Risk

By Davis Merritt

"The First modification to the U.S. structure is obvious: Congress shall make no legislations abridging freedom of the clicking. And but a strength likely much more strong than the ideally suited legislations of the land threatens one among our nation's most useful guarantors of freedom. For greater than centuries, American newspapers have accrued, geared up, and disseminated the knowledge that makes democracy attainable. Occasional competitors of a loose press haven't been in a position to cripple newspapers and regardless of dire predictions, neither have radio, tv, or the web. yet greed can kill American newspapers, hence taking away the the most important synergy among journalism and democracy. the truth that newspapers needs to stay financially plausible has continuously dictated compromises among the competing missions of revenue and public carrier. yet in recent times the basic balancing of these missions has been changed through a single-minded pursuit of revenue. no matter if the selected technique is scaling again of content material, slicing corners to regulate charges, or dismantling the conventional wall setting apart the inside track and company departments, the result's a similar: the watering down of newspaper journalism, that is the middle of all American journalism. with no primary switch in newspapers' company boardrooms, the circulation of data that americans have to govern themselves will dry up. In "Knightfall", Davis "Buzz" Merritt, a 40-year newspaperman whose occupation runs parallel to the seismic shift in journalism's panorama, examines one remarkable exemplar of this turning out to be development, Knight Ridder, America's second-largest newspaper corporation with holdings together with "The Philadelphia Inquirer", "The Miami Herald", the "Detroit unfastened Press", and the "Mercury information" in San Jose. Merritt was once a participant-observer within the 1974 marriage of 2 newspaper businesses, a union that appeared made in heaven. Knight Newspapers' longstanding culture of excellence in journalism coupled with Ridder courses' company savvy must have created a distinct corporation supplying the easiest of either worlds. That it didn't ensue is a mirrored image of complicated adjustments in American society and the realities of contemporary enterprise pressures pushed by way of Wall highway. There aren't any natural heroes or natural villains during this tale; the avid gamers have been doing what their education, historical past, and respective family members histories suggested them to do. however the story's end result is ominous for American democracy. Merritt's own money owed of the 30 years because the merger illustrate the measure to which what we all know is being constrained. extra, his graphics of key figures, research of societal adjustments, and dozens of interviews with others who have been (and are) there exhibit that not just is he heading in the right direction, he's additionally now not on my own in his unsettling conclusions. A loose press is a cornerstone of our democracy. The erosion of that beginning is a disaster within the making: the genuine threat that the type of journalism that gave upward thrust to - and preserves - our democracy will disappear."

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60 sixty two sixty five sixty six sixty nine seventy two seventy four seventy five half : noon five: Introducing swap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . seventy nine From ‘‘Editorial Autonomy ’’ to the ‘‘Publisher System’’ . . . . . . . eighty two 6: exterior switch: Boomers, Wall highway, and expertise . . . . . . . . . swap One: Boomers or Bust . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . switch : The Wall road Syndrome . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cyclical, best to backside . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . On Deaf Ears . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . switch 3: know-how . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the net . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . industry Fragmentation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 86 ninety one ninety two ninety five ninety eight ninety eight one hundred and one 7: inner switch: Creeping Corporatism and disaster . . . . . . . . . switch 4: go away Autonomy by myself . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Creeping Corporatism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . an issue of Tone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . One measurement suits All . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . switch 5: You Get What You Pay For, perhaps . . . . . . . . . . . . The Publishers’ rebel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Erosion of Newspaper caliber and MBOs . . . . . . . . . . . . swap Six: humans and goal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104 one hundred and five 107 109 112 113 one hundred fifteen 117 118 eight: switch Seven: Breaching the Wall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Why a Wall? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cracks and Gaps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Auto-Mania . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Where’s My Bazooka? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Coda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121 122 one hundred twenty five 127 128 131 nine: switch 8: Lie, Cheat, thieve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132 Post-Watergate Syndrome . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136 ................. 11084$ CNTS 12-23-04 10:01:40 playstation web page viii http://nowhereman. alfaspace. web CONTENTS Lie . . . ......................................... Cheat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . thieve . . . ........................................ . . . And belief . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ‘‘Who Do I See approximately . . . ? ’’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . assistance for Coping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . / ix 139 141 142 143 146 147 half 3: night 10: Doing the Journalism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Batten: That ‘‘Special Spark’’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Mile Island . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PTL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kentucky Basketball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . typhoon Andrew . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Margins of Excellence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ‘‘An extraordinary and surprising Honor’’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Coda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 152 156 159 161 163 164 one hundred seventy 172 eleven: asserting goodbye . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Philadelphia tale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Columbia tale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Miami tale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A San Jose tale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174 177 183 186 one hundred ninety 12: Wichita . . . announcing goodbye . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Public Journalism . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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