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Journalist Jill Abramson
Credit: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

'Fake news,' press freedom and the business of journalism now

Two years and counting into the presidency of Donald Trump, it’s quite a time to be a journalist. The president has embraced a kind of rhetoric (“the failing New York Times," "enemy of the people," "fake news") that flat out negates the legitimacy of certain journalistic institutions.

So what’s a defender of the First Amendment to do? Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson took the opportunity to write a book that explores our rapidly changing media landscape: “Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts.”

Her new work is a coda of sorts to David Halberstam’s “The Powers That Be,” which inspired her career. In it, she explores the media realities driving two legacy journalism standard bearers — The New York Times and The Washington Post — and two journalism upstarts — BuzzFeed and VICE — with the shadow of Facebook looming large.

Abramson has faced charges of plagiarism and misreporting concerning some of the facts for this book. She is asked about that here by UW professor David Domke. You can hear more about the accusations and her response in this NPR story.

Jill Abramson is a senior lecturer at Harvard University and writes for The Guardian about politics in the U.S. She had a long career at The New York Times, where she was the first woman to serve as Washington bureau chief, managing edito, and ultimately executive editor.

Abramson spoke with UW professor David Domke at this University Bookstore event. It took place at the University Temple United Methodist Church on February 28. KUOW’s Sonya Harris recorded the discussion.