News / USA

Media Experts Ponder Future of Newspapers After Washington Post Sale

Media Experts Ponder Future of Newspapers After Washington Post Salei
X
August 10, 2013 12:33 AM
Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos made news this week following reports that the Internet pioneer had purchased one of the nation’s top newspapers - The Washington Post. The newspaper has been losing money for years. Initial reaction to the $250-million deal has been mostly positive. But as Mil Arcega reports, the buyout is raising questions about the future of the struggling newspaper industry.
Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos made news this week following reports that the Internet pioneer had purchased one of the nation’s top newspapers - The Washington Post. The newspaper has been losing money for years. Initial reaction to the $250-million deal has been mostly positive. The buyout is raising questions, however, about the future of the struggling newspaper industry.

He founded one of the world’s most profitable online companies. He has shaped the way consumers buy books. And now Bezos is poised to become the owner of one of the nation’s most influential papers.  

Ken Doctor, the author of Newsonomics - about how digital trends are shaping the news - said the buyout marks a significant shift for newspapers, not just the Post.

Speaking via Skype, he said, “It raises on a high level, questions about the future of The New York Times. And this, of course, at the same time when Axel Springer [multi-media publisher] in Germany is getting out of the regional newspaper business. So we have a worldwide phenomenon - an earthquake really in the news business.”

That’s because what happens at the Post in the Bezos era is likely to set the pattern for other struggling newspapers.

One issue likely to come up is the role of unions and collective bargaining. Amazon often has seen unions as obstacles to innovation. Chris Tolles, CEO of the online news community Topix, said that Bezos is unlikely to run the Post, though, the way he runs Amazon.

“The fact that he made a personal investment is the interesting part here. It’s not that he was the founder of Amazon. But this seems to be his own thing. And it will be, I think it’s going to be, different than any of us can foresee in terms of how it goes on. I doubt it’s going to be just another arm of Amazon,” said Tolles.

Bezos, who has been described as libertarian in his views, has promised no radical changes at the Post - assuring staff that he would leave editorial politics and day-to-day operations to the professionals.  

But on Skype, new media professor Paul Levinson says he’s not buying it. “It’s almost become a cliché that when a big corporation buys out some kind of media operation, whether it’s a newspaper or television operation - they always say the same thing - 'We’re going to keep our hands off the editorial policy, we’re going to allow the original editors to continue' - and invariably that never holds,” said Levinson.

For the Post to return to profitability, something has to give. Experts say Bezos either will have to bring in more revenue or cut costs.

Doctor said running a newspaper is not the same as running an online store. “What Bezos does with The Washington Post is a real open question. No experience as a media entrepreneur, no idea how thin-skinned he may be, or how he’s going to run that organization.”

Advertising accounts for up to 80 percent of newspaper revenue. While recent double-digit declines in print advertising have slowed, publishers continue downsizing newsrooms across the country as more people turn to online news.  

Experts say what happens next at the 136-year old Washington Post either will signal the start of a new business model or the continuing decline of newspapers in the digital age.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: John Young from: Los Angeles
September 08, 2013 12:03 PM
After Napster almost put the music business out of business by giving away music, iTunes was able to save the industry by selling individual tracks for a reasonable price -- about $1 or what we historically paid for a single 45 RPM record -- versus the price gouging $16.95 that the typical CD sold for. And you usually only got one or two songs on that CD that you liked. Similarly, I'm willing to pay an iTunes-like price for newspapers, maybe $19.95 a year, but certainly not the $300 per year newspapers are used to getting for delivering an expensive paper-based product. I have to guess layout, printing, and delivering papers wipes out most or more than the price of a subscription. I tried subscribing to the WSJ, but they insisted on delivering the physical paper to me, even though I only wanted the electronic edition. What a waste of money. After their introductory price was over, I cancelled.

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
August 11, 2013 9:39 PM
I suppose Bezos is not interested in journalism but only thinking about money. Washington Post also thinks about money seriously and come to this sale.

I doubt online journalism could replace paper journalism. The role of journalism is not only delivering raw news in photoes and videos without comments. Journalim should have its own opinions reflecting the publisher's and editer's thought. It would be helpful for subscribers to reach their own acceptable opinions when defferent interpretations are shown by different editers.

Online news are irresponsible if they deliver the news collected by paper journalism without paying reasonable money. As long as online is operated on the basis of free contact, news with full contents which costs a lot of money on collection would not survive online.

What now questioned is I think whether we citizons would like temporary, free, irresponsible stimuli or would like detailed profound intelligence. Thank you.

by: chrisl from: long beach, ny
August 10, 2013 11:38 AM
Sure digital media has hurt print media across the board. But your "experts" ignore the elephant in the room. WaPo, Newsweek and the NY Times have abandoned even the facade of impartiality and have turned themselves into cheerleaders for the Democrats. How do they expect to increase revenues when their opinions are always the opposite of 50% of potential customers? Moreover, these rags no longer perform any investigative journalism unless its to find dirt on Republicans, like the haircut Romney gave some kid forty years ago. What important information have they discovered about Obama's "phony scandals"? Nothing. In fact they seem much more concerned with ignoring them or actually covering them up. So why should anyone, including Democrats, buy this junk when they can just hear Obama read the same thing off his teleprompter?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs