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

Leonard Downie

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Autobiography: general

At a time when the role of journalism is especially critical, the former executive editor of the Washington Post writes about his nearly 50 years at the newspaper and the importance of getting at the truth.

In 1964, at age 22, Len Downie joined the Washington Post as an intern. He became a pioneering investigative reporter, news editor, foreign correspondent, and managing editor, before succeeding the legendary Ben Bradlee as executive editor.

As Downie writes, he was quite different from Bradlee. But he played an equally important role over more than four decades in making The Post one of the world's leading news organizations. Among the stories he was involved with were the historic Watergate story, the investigation and impeachment of President Bill Clinton, the Unabomber (who threatened to kill more people if The Post did not publish his 'manifesto'); the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and many national security stories published in defiance of government wishes. He managed The Post's ascendency to the pinnacle of influence, circulation and profitability, before being confronted by the digital transformation of the news media that threatened to put the Post out of business.

In a dangerous age of fake news and media manipulation, Downie's judgment, fairness, and commitment to truth will inspire anyone who wants to know how journalism at its best, works.

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