''Fake News? How about no news?'' ''Ghosting The News'' by Margaret Sullivan, is a brisk and pointed tribute to painstaking, ordinary and valuable work.

As a media columnist for The Washington Post and the former public editor for The New York Times.

Sullivan has spent much of the past decade writing for a national audience, but for 32 years before that she worked at The Buffalo News, starting as a summer intern and eventually becoming the newspaper's editor.

Sullivan recalls the flush days when the paper boasted a newsroom fully staffed with journalists who could combine their calling with a career. Then came the Internet which siphoned off attention and revenue; after that, the deluge of the 2008 financial crisis, which swept away the vestiges of print advertising.

Sullivan cut the payroll of the paper by offering buyouts. She got rid of the art critic and the Sunday magazine - ''a particularly wrenching decision because my then husband was the magazine's editor.''

The Buffalo News was owned by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway until the beginning of this year, when Buffet declared it was time for him to leave the newspaper industry and sold his portfolio of 31 dailies and 49 weeklies.

Buffet said that he believed in the importance of journalism and that he didn't consider himself a philanthropist. He got into the business because it made money, with fat profit margins in the good years reaching 30 percent.

When he bought The Buffalo News in 1977, he decided that the city could sustain only one daily, and he knocked out the competition until he was the last paper standing.

A monopoly newspaper was like an unregulated toll bridge : With a loyal and captive market, he could raise rates whenever he wanted.

Sullivan surveys the alternative models that have sprung up in response to journalism's ecosystem collapse. There's the nonprofit reporting outfit ProPublica, and a newsbrigade'' of volunteer journalist in Michigan.

Sullivan's own employer was was acquired by Jeff Bezos in 2013 for $250 million. ''Jeff Bezos has not attempted to influence coverage at The Washington Post,'' she writes, though billionaire owners aren't always so hands-off.

The casino magnate Sheldon Adelson bough the well respected Review Journal in Las Vegas, which was known for investigative pieces on the casino industry, and leaned on its staff to produce puff pieces about his properties instead. Adelson turned the watchdog into a lapdog.

The situation is so dire, Sullivan says, that she entertains what was once unthinkable - the possibility of government subsidized journalistic outlets.

''Ghosting The News'' concludes with a soaring quote from the Italian theorist Antonio Gramsci about  ''pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will,'' but the local reporter in Sullivan follows follows it up with a more immediate analogy:

Even if no one seems to be coming to the rescue while your house is on fire, you will still have to get out your garden hose and bucket, and keep acting as if the fire trucks are on the way.''

The World Students Society thanks review author Jennifer Szalai.


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