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Bezos buys a newspaper

Posted August 8, 2013 into Books by John Birmingham

If I was working for the Washington Post I'd probably be a helluva lot more relieved than concerned about Jeff Bezos buying my ass wholesale this week. Chances are the business desk will never write another decent story about Amazon's business practices, but other than that Bezos seems to be shaping up as very old fashioned hands-off proprietor in the tradition of American billionaires who buy a newspaper as a sort of charitable indulgence rather than a commercial investment.

He paid $250m for a masthead once valued at over a billion, and he probably overpaid. But he can afford it. Dude's personally worth over $25 billion. He could lose fifty or sixty million a year on the Post for the rest of his life and still die megawealthy. and that's without Amazon paying him another cent.

The thing about Bezos, he plays for the long run. He's playing for the long run in trying to monoplise the publishing industry, and probably in trying to roll over retail competitors like Costco and Walmart. He could afford to sit and wait for years, decades even, while the slow death of the old media kills of most of the legacy print competitors leaving a few globally recognised mastheads to survive as megasaurs in a radically changed ecology.

I can very easily imagine a future where a handful of brand titles like The New York Times and now the Post, become less about serving their local catchments and more about selling an increasingly rare - and thus valuable product - hard news, to a much wider market. (It's noticeable, for instance that the stories selected by the editors of the NYT for each day's live read on Audible seem very strongly slanted towards an international audience). I'd also add that there's no guarantee the Times will survive, given their parlous finances. But they're a lot better placed to do so than most papers.

4 Responses to ‘Bezos buys a newspaper’

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted August 8, 2013

It is charming and quite reassuring that the ultra rich of today are behaving like the benevolent robber barons of the past. I'm not being critical. I think it is wonderful that Bezos will be keeping the Post alive independent of any profit motive. It is even more reassuring to know that the accumulation of enormous wealth might foster the kind of man Karl Marx hoped would result from communism.

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Blarkon mumbles...

Posted August 8, 2013

Nah, just another Dot Commer slowly coming to the realization that their industry is the one that killed serious journalism and that pyjama journalism isn't going to fix the crap that happens to democracy next.

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HAVOCK21 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 9, 2013

WAAAAAY of fkn TOPIC, I see that MURPH has popped up here!

"A 600-year-old statue residing in a museum in Florence, Italy, has one less finger on its left hand thanks to an American tourist who came in contact with the artwork and broke off a digit.

The tourist, whose name has not been reported, allegedly broke off the left pinky finger of the statue while attempting to measure it. The incident is thought to have been an accident, but officials in Italy questioned the American and are weighing what action to take.The fundamental rules for visiting a museum have been forgotten, that is: do not touch the works.

Reports have described the tourist as a 55-year-old man from Missouri in the US.

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