Academic journal article Journalism History

Book Reviews -- Newhouse: All the Glitter, Power, and Glory of America's Richest Media Empire and the Secretive Man Behind It by Thomas Maier

Academic journal article Journalism History

Book Reviews -- Newhouse: All the Glitter, Power, and Glory of America's Richest Media Empire and the Secretive Man Behind It by Thomas Maier

Article excerpt

Maier, Thomas. Newhouse: All the Glitter, Power, and Glory of America's Richest Media Empire and the Secretive Man Beh ind It. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994. 446 pp. $24.95.

Nothing seems more hypocritical than a journalist who circumvents the truth. For two generations, the Newhouses, as presented in Thomas Maier's family and corporate history, have preached one brand of journalism in public while practicing another in private. Disingenuous statements about newspaper and magazine management, coupled with unethical influences on the news, raise troubling questions about the nation's wealthiest media barons and whether they are worthy of such a public trust as the press.

Maier, a business writer and investigative reporter for New York Newsday, suggests in his book that the Newhouses are indeed unworthy. His umbrage does not focus so much on the fact that their empire is huge -- worth perhaps more than $13 billion -- or that it is in so few hands (brothers S.I. and Donald Newhouse and various family members). It is not even a matter of hard-nosed business practices, such as Newhouse's fondness for one newspaper towns and bottom-line management.

Maier finds that despite its power, Newhouse does little with it but make money and protect its interests and those of its advertisers and friends. The public good, it seems, is little more than an afterthought.

Making matters worse is Newhouse's tendency to claim a hands-off approach to its holdings, particularly its newspapers, but to become heavily involved, especially when a personal interest is at stake. Maier cites several examples of the Newhouse blend of commerce and journalism. For example, the Portland Oregonian killed an article on how to sell a home without a real estate agent rather than anger advertisers. …

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