American journalists are scorned by their British counterparts for beginning their articles with what is known in the trade as ‘drop intros’. Rather than tell readers the story in the opening sentences, they seek to intrigue them with some tangential material before they go on to relate the salient facts. Although these conceits can sometimes be entertaining, the delay is usually frustrating.
In Merchants of Truth, Jill Abramson practises the same strategy in long form. The delay is particularly maddening because the vast majority of buyers will surely be eager to read her first-hand account of being fired as executive editor of the New York Times. Yet she makes us wait until page 258 before giving us the riveting blow-by-blow narrative of her departure in May 2014.
As she notes, very fairly, the men responsible for her downfall dispute her version of events. But her account of the disagreements and the Machiavellian management manoeuvres she experienced is engrossing and anyone who has worked at the highest level in newspapers will recognise the realities she describes. If they