Saturday, August 10, 2013
Review: Deadlines and Disruption: My Turbulent Path from Print to Digital
Deadlines and Disruption: My Turbulent Path from Print to Digital by Stephen B. Shepard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Shepard's book promises a look at the changing nature of journalism, but it's more of an autobiography with a few short think-pieces at the end. His account of growing up in New York, falling in love with journalism and becoming the very successful editor of BusinessWeek is interesting without being gripping and personal without being revealing. Throughout the book he is at pains to mention the names of all the big beasts he met (star CEOs and presidents) and the names of all those who helped him along the way, such that at times the book resembles a very long retirement speech. Perhaps that's what it is.
He is good on the ethics of journalism and honest about his mistakes, and there are some interesting anecdotes about some of his struggles with awkward business people and legal battles, but generally the book lacks bite. His insights into the change to digital journalism and the crisis of newspapers are certainly interesting, although there isn't enough depth to justify buying the book for these alone.
All in all, it's a pretty solid three stars.
Quibbles? The fact that you're a star editor doesn't mean you're immune from mistakes. He (or his editor) should know that it's 'card sharp' not 'card shark', and that the plural of 'syllabus' isn't 'syllabi'. And his summary of the articles published in his time at BusinessWeek needed a maths check, unless the average length of stories during those two decades really was 100 words.
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