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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More