Praise for Hell and High Water

Rebecca Theim tells a difficult story of the death of a beloved newspaper. True to her journalistic roots, she is thorough and balanced, though impassioned. She names names, points out mistakes and kudos, all while telling the story well, making her mastery of the narrative craft evident. The story is fast-moving and so well done, it is a lesson in how to record historical events in a way that captures the imagination and attention of any and all readers. Even if you have nothing to do with New Orleans or the newspaper business, this is well-told story of an important piece of history that you need to read.”
— National Federation of Press Women, in naming book 2014’s second-best non-fiction adult title

“If newspapers are black and white and dead all over, in New Orleans they’re the walking dead, and Theim’s tale of how print still lives will be of interest to New Orleanians and the newspaper industry at large.”
Kevin Allman, editor, Gambit Weekly, New Orleans

“One day when media historians study what the Newhouses did to journalism, Theim will be an important source, perhaps the most important. Now we are seeing the results of her work … The publication is an excellent, at times riveting, bit of reporting put together in an amazingly short time.”
Errol Laborde,, the blog of New Orleans Magazine

“Rebecca Theim … narrates the story of the paper’s demise with clear compassion and in journalistic detail — while wielding a pen as mighty as any sword.”
Louisiana State University History Professor Andrew Burstein, in The Advocate (New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, October 8, 2013)

“Rebecca Theim tells a story steeped in a particular newsroom culture, but set against an industry-wide convulsion that is upending newspapers everywhere. It’s a data-rich case study wrapped around a moving human drama, a story of startlingly inept front-office maneuvering and the fears, anger and dreams of journalists whose careers have been wrecked. Anyone who cares about the future of news media needs to read this clear-eyed book. So, too, anyone with fond feeling for the strange and fascinating place called New Orleans.”
—Jed Horne, former metro editor of the New Orleans Times-Picayune and author of Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City

“What happened to the American newspaper industry in the 21st century? Readers need only turn to Rebecca Theim’s extraordinarily compelling and richly detailed Hell and High Water: The Battle to Save the Daily New Orleans Times-Picayune.” This book vividly portrays the lives of the journalists caught in a battle to save their city’s beloved newspaper only a few years after Hurricane Katrina nearly destroyed it. The serious questions raised by Theim in this gripping account should worry every American concerned about the future of journalism in our democracy.”
—Thomas Maier, author of Newhouse: All the Glitter, Power, & Glory of America’s Richest Media Empire & the Secretive Man Behind It

Hell and High Water is a labor not only of love but also passion for a battered craft. Rebecca Theim’s story of the corporate gutting of a great newspaper is an intensely observed, deeply reported microcosm of the worldwide devastation that has enveloped print journalism.”
—Henry Kisor, author and retired book editor of the Chicago Sun-Times

“With probing research and righteous passion, Rebecca Theim chronicles the demise of the daily Times-Picayune, a newspaper once beloved by New Orleanians for its heroic coverage of Hurricane Katrina, now a media property reduced by a cold ownership, gauging profits in firing reporters and erasing institutional memory. This book should be read in every newsroom and university where journalism is taught.”
—Jason Berry, author, director, and investigative reporter

“This is an important story, not just about the specifics of a 175-year-old newspaper’s struggle to survive and the steps and missteps taken by its fifty-yearlong owner, but about the broader issues of strategy and the role of a daily newspaper in the life of a community. Rebecca Theim goes inside the paper … and reveals the naïveté of many of the staff to the stark realities facing the business, as well as probing the questions of what should consumers expect to pay for independent quality reporting and who should own daily newspapers.”
—Christie Hefner, director, Center for American Progress


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