All About the Story: News, Power, Politics, and the Washington Post

PublicAffairs: Perseus. Sept. 2020. 400p. ISBN 9781541742284. $30. BIOG
The Washington Post has had a rich tradition of investigative journalism, including Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s celebrated reporting on the Watergate scandal. Downie (journalism; Arizona State Univ.; The New Muckrakers) practiced and fostered the muckraking style of journalism during his career at the Post as an investigative reporter, a foreign correspondent in London, and the managing editor of the Metro section. Serving under longtime executive editor Ben Bradlee, he took on stories dedicated to exposing corruption in the government, such as the banking and courts systems. He also brought to light inequities in housing and other social injustices in low-income African American neighborhoods in Washington, DC. In 1991, when he replaced Bradlee as executive editor, he shaped the coverage of many high-profile stories until his retirement in 2008. Downie draws on his experience at the Post, along with archives, firsthand interviews, and former Post stories to trace his career at the storied newspaper and the lessons he’s learned along the way.
VERDICT With the recent denigration of journalists by government officials and purveyors of fringe media, stories such as Downie’s are important. Aspiring journalism students and readers of the Post would especially appreciate this biography.
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