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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    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.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora