Baron talks Trump, Bezos and The Washington Post
From left, author, journalist and editor Martin Baron with Merritt Bookstore owner of Kira Wizner and lawyer Nicholas Diamand. Photo by Judith O’Hara Balfe

Baron talks Trump, Bezos and The Washington Post

It’s pretty certain that Jeff Bezos, Donald Trump and a host of other world-famous people remember Martin Baron as editor of, first, The Boston Globe, and then The Washington Post. 

Some of the most important stories over the past 25 years crossed his desk. He made the decisions concerning what was printed and what wasn’t, always with integrity, fairness and the evidence to back it up.

Baron was at Merritt Bookstore in Millbrook on Wednesday, Nov. 15, for a talk and a book signing for his book “Collision of Power. Trump, Bezos, and The Washington Post.” He began his talk by introducing the fact that, after only seven months as editor at The Washington Post, it was bought by Jeff Bezos. He also described a dinner at the White House with newly elected president Donald Trump, relaying the fact that Trump would speak disparagingly of the paper and then jab Baron with his elbow. 

In spite of the fact that there was a president in power who had campaigned against the media and who, all through his tenure, waged war against the press, The Washington Post wrote groundbreaking news, including covering stories about the NSA surveillance in the U.S., and the scandals that took place at the Secret Service.

The book is written in a straightforward, factual manner, with the journalist’s desire to answer all questions and the editor’s wisdom in knowing how to handle a barrage of information. The outcome leaves one satisfied, but not overwhelmed with unnecessary information.

Baron talks about people we have only heard about but wish we knew, and some others we know about and wish we didn’t. He gives us insight into how the media works, and what happens when it doesn’t work the right way. He even had tidbits about other newspapers and media that make it really interesting and gives one a feeling of knowing much more when we finish the book than when we started it. In some places its dark; in others, it’s fun.

One of the most interesting parts of the evening was during the questions asked by the audience and mediated by lawyer and Merritt friend Nicholas Diamand. When asked what Baron considers his “best” work, he answered that the assignment he handed over to a team of journalists in 2001 when he was at The Boston Globe will always be the most important. That was the expose that brought about the investigation into the abuse, by defrocked priest John Geoghan, of more than 80 young boys. This, in turn, brought about the unmasking of the extent of the abuse by many other priests in many other places, and investigations are still going on today. That story ended up being made into the award-winning movie “Spotlight.”

Questions were also asked about the future of print newspapers; Baron stated that, 20 years ago, he thought they had about 10 years left. He feels that they are existing now on borrowed time.

He does see a future for news and journalism in the digital age, as media becomes digitalized as the norm. Things are recorded as they happen, in real time, and can be seen immediately. More and more newspapers have begun to print less and less often, and most no longer deliver. Baron thinks that at some point, most newspapers will only print on Sundays, and the format will be more magazine than newspaper.

With that said, it’s a fascinating journey to read his book, to note the changes over the years that he wrote about, and a wonderful bonus is two sections of color photos in the book with people you will recognize. Also a bonus is Baron’s personal and up-close observations of people we all know and love or love to hate, and his insights as to why things may have happened as they did. It’s current, but it looks back just a bit while giving one a peek into the future.

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