Jeff Bezos, Founder Of Amazon, Acquires The Washington Post

Just a few thoughts:

Interesting sidenote: Bezos’ involvement in the 10,000 year clock, buried deep in a mountain.

In American life, a tremendous amount of wealth has shifted hands from industry and manufacturing over to technology.  Like the industrialists who came before (too often maligned as robber barons), these tech entrepreneurs have added value to all of our lives, driving down the costs of their products in an extremely competitive marketplace.

Naturally, with all that money can come the desire for influence, or to achieve other social aims.  Print media’s model has been dying, and it’s doubtful how successful a business model journalism, news-gathering, and opinioneering has ever really been.

Technology has been changing business, politics, learning, higher education and culture quite dramatically.

Furthermore, Americans yearn for explainers, and many people nominate themselves to fill the role.  James Fallows, former speech writer for Carter, opines:

‘For years anyone thinking about the future of news has realized that, completely on its own, what we consider “serious” journalism has never been a viable business. Foreign reportage, serious investigative or government-accountability coverage — functions like these have always been, in economic terms, parasites that need to ride along on some profitable host body. In the old days, that was the fat, bundled newspaper, which provided a range of information to an audience with no technological alternative. We’re in the un-bundled era now, and serious journalism has been looking for new host bodies — much as higher education, museums, the fine arts, etc have also needed support beyond what the flat-out market would provide’

This blog has been tracking similar developments, especially with regard to the eroding influence of print media.  There’s a rush to fill the public square, and thousands of new voices have sprung up, with everybody knowing something each one of us may not.   Many individuals and groups of individuals desire to either acquire or maintain influence over our institutions, our political economy, and shape public opinion.

From a previous comment on this blog:

‘Opinion and news are now a commodity in this age, hard to extract money for that with the internet.’

We live in interesting times.

If you have a few minutes, it might be worth checking out Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappo’s online, putting $350 million of his own money into downtown Las Vegas to change the city.  From his original company LinkExchange which he sold, to Zappo’s customer focused business model, to Las Vegas itself, Hsieh is after scalability of interaction.  He wants to create a live/work environment that puts people densely enough to continue urban growth and human interaction.

At least he’s putting up his own money to achieve his vision:


From Slate: “Newsweek Has Fallen And Can’t Get Up”

Big Data And Filthy Lucre: Neil Irwin At WonkBlog-’Here’s What The Bloomberg Data Scandal Reveals About How The Media Really Makes Money’

Classic Yellow Journalism by malik2moon

Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon

Related On This SiteJack Shafer At Slate: ‘Nonprofit Journalism Comes At A Cost’..

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? From Slate: Jack Shafer On The Pulitzer Prize-Who Cares?  Who Reads The Newspapers?

The Newseum Opens On The Mall: More From The Weekly Standard

A Free Lunch?-Megan McArdle At The Daily Beast: ‘How To Get Ahead On Facebook Without Really Trying’

Malcolm Gladwell argues here that apart from the information/journalism divide, the technology still ultimately costs something as well…”Free” is a utopian vision, and I suspect Gladwell knows this pretty well:  From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”

8 thoughts on “Jeff Bezos, Founder Of Amazon, Acquires The Washington Post

  1. Great read for a Monday evening when the US awaits a terrorist attack. I had not read Fallows on this subject matter before but his words are crushingly true in this current age of Presidential adoration where any form of investigative journalism has been left by the roadside alongside the “tingling leg” of Chris Matthews and the rest of the so-called and self-described journalists. His words: Foreign reportage, serious investigative or government-accountability coverage — describe an artform of journalism that is sadly missing today (at least in what is mistakenly called the Major Press. Oh my – how far we have fallen!

  2. Bernie, I hear you.

    That artform costs time and money, and it’s never been too great a business model. Some journalists are trying to resuscitate it.

    A lot of what you see is the marketplace driving everyone towards cat videos and celebrity worship. Journalism is simultaneously getting vapid because of this (much less content) and also many journalists seem to have forgotten their role, clinging desperately onto power and influence rather than holding feet to flames and digging around.

    Independent journalism would be nice, but to some extent, you get what you pay for.

    And even at more public outlets, like NPR, you’re getting a group of people gathered around an ideology, a political philosophy, and filtering the world accordingly. That’s human nature.

    • I understand…the careful listener and reader must separate the ‘journalist’ from the ‘entertainer’ – so I read and listen to those like O’Reilly, Stossel, Cavuto, Charles Payne…I could go on and do. Limbaugh and Beck are ‘entertaining us.’

      • Bernie, that’s interesting.

        I’ve come to see it as a sliding scale from entertainment, to infotainment, to information.

        Deep discussions can be complex and bore most people. Entertainment and pulsing videos excite people (the medium is the message?). Ideological conformity soothes people as well, and it’s easy to only look for reaffirmation without any challenge.

        But it’s also important to keep pointing out truths that would be buried otherwise by competing worldviews and principles and ideas.

        To overthink it more, you can have good information and pretty high standards and fact-gathering but say supported by a worldview you don’t share (NPR, feminism, multiculturalism, environmentalism).

        I think much of the media skews liberal from where I sit (what worries me is that liberalism isn’t static, and that liberals are blind to threats to liberty from the further Left), and that’s when it’s important to stand up.

        It’s just kind of the Wild West right now and we’ve got a lot of change going on.

        Deep down, I think it’s best to search for the truth, and what is, regardless of what I want it to be.

  3. That usually happens best in thought, conversation, debate, and further away from the preening in the public square, and the movers and shakers.

    I should add I’d be happy with a kind of founding classical liberalism, more limited government, more freedom, reasonable conservatism.

    But that’s where I’m at, and I’m looking for others.

  4. Bezos needs a hammer to hold over the heads of Congress regarding internet tax and copyright laws. He just bought a hammer w/ barrels of ink.

    • Nick,

      Could be. It may not just be influence on shaping public opinion he’s interested in, but on lawmakers.

      It could be more vanity, too, as its his own money, or perhaps some sense of civic duty. It could turn out to be a shrewd business decision, or another Newsweek.

  5. He picked the right town to twist arms in, and make friends and influence people.

    —Prrhaps he also wants to fiddle with Amazon’s model, the media model, as mobile devices are where a lot of this is headed at the moment. If he pulls that off, having a family buy a subscription to the Wapo on a tablet,he’ll have more influence than he needs.

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