Hard News: Twenty-one Brutal Months at The New York Times and How They Changed the American Media

On May 11, 2003, The New York Times devoted four pages of its Sunday paper to the deceptions of Jayson Blair, a mediocre former Times reporter who had made up stories, faked datelines, and plagiarized on a massive scale. The fallout from the Blair scandal rocked the Times to its core and revealed fault lines in a fractious newsroom that was already close to open revolt.

Staffers were furious–about the perception that management had given Blair more leeway because he was black, about the special treatment of favored correspondents, and most of all about the shoddy reporting that was infecting the most revered newspaper in the world. Within a month, Howell Raines, the imperious executive editor who had taken office less than a week before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001–and helped lead the paper to a record six Pulitzer Prizes for its coverage of the attacks–had been forced out of his job.

Having gained unprecedented access to the reporters who conducted the Times’s internal investigation, top newsroom executives, and dozens of Times editors, of the scandal for the rapidly changing world of American journalism.

It’s a true tale that reads like Greek drama, with the most revered of American institutions attempting to overcome the crippling effects of a leader’s blinding narcissism and a low-level reporter’s sociopathic deceptions. Hard News will shape how we understand and judge the media for years to come.

For sale at Amazon.com.

Seth Mnookin

About Seth Mnookin

Seth Mnookin is a longtime journalist and science writer. His most recent book, The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy, won the National Association of Science Writers “Science in Society” Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He is also the author of the 2006 New York Times bestseller Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top, which chronicles the challenges and triumphs of the John Henry-Tom Werner ownership group of the Boston Red Sox. His first book, 2004′s Hard News: The Scandals at The New York Times and Their Meaning for American Media, was a Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Seth's 2014 New Yorker piece on rare genetic diseases won the American Medical Writers Association prize for best story of the year and was included in the 2015 Best American Science and Nature Writing anthology. He is an elected board member of the National Association of Science Writers and his work has appeared in numerous publications, including STAT, New York, Wired, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Spin, Slate, and Salon.com. A former music columnist for The New York Observer, he began his journalism career as a rock critic for the now-defunct webzine Addicted to Noise. He graduated from Harvard College in 1994 with a degree in History and Science, and was a 2004 Joan Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

 
 

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