Auletta, unlike many of the media outlets he covers, is reasonably fair and balanced, a trusted name in news. From the lofty, tumultuous aerie of The New York Times to the bellowing bowels of Fox News, Backstory (culled mostly from his New Yorker investigations) claims to be a cogent reevaluation of free-press integrity in a post-synergy media culture. But there's a looseness to these stories belied by Auletta's connective ''postscripts,'' which clumsily emphasize tenuous connections between stories he wrote years apart. (Is a Don Imus profile really relevant at this point?) Still, his acumen and incredible access make this required reading for both purveyors and consumers of ''content.''