With a title like Death, Sex and Money, any professional or armchair media critic will be looking forward to Michael Young’s expose confirming their worst imaginings, but the story within doesn’t really match the incendiary title.
A former London Times and Sydney Morning Herald journalist, Young has good access to editorial movers and shakers on two continents, but he’s more interested in the process and people that determine what ends up on the page than the bombshells about bloodthirsty and opportunistic journalists you’re hoping for. Despite seeming to want us to believe editors are akin to vampires, Young goes to considerable pains to prove otherwise.
The writing is colourful, descriptive and skilled but the book isn’t very cohesive, the ‘narrative’ of life inside a newspaper all over the place, with history three quarters of the way through and ethics buried in the epilogue. Death, Sex and Money wants to either be a clinical look at how newspapers work or a sensational expose on their darkest methods, and mostly misses the boat on both.