If you are going into journalism for the fame, money, sex and drugs, you are an idiot. If you want to get into it because you have low self-esteem, are delusional, and don’t know of any other reason to have a degree in communications, or history or some other humanities crap then, you are getting warmer.
On the other hand, if you have a spare $250 million (it has to be about 1% of your net worth so, do the math) you can steal one of the largest online media companies in the world, The Washington Post, for a bargain basement price, indulge your passions and have thousands of journalist hoping and praying that you have some ideas on how to keep their jobs secure. Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, has bought the paper that blew open The Watergate Scandal.
As the wonks at Politico put it:
In the years since the Internet upended the media industry, the 135-year-old Post has been the most prominent example of an old-school, family-owned establishment newspaper fighting a tortuous battle to keep apace of the digital revolution. That struggle was becoming increasingly difficult in recent years as the Post suffered severe revenue losses and was forced to cut back on resources.
Then on Monday, in an announcement so unexpected as to seem miraculous, a savior arrived. The Post’s publisher and CEO Katharine Weymouth announced to the surprise of nearly her entire staff that Bezos, a digital pioneer, entrepreneur and one of the richest men on the planet, would be buying the paper.
In one fell swoop, the era of family-owned newspapers seemed to end while the new era — in which billionaire tech moguls jump on print properties for a relative pittance — seemed more certain than ever. Like Facebook founder Chris Hughes buying The New Republic, Bezos had signaled to the entire industry that the fate of old news organizations lies in the hands of new media titans.
To be clear, Jeff Bezos has personally invested in everything from 3D printing (Makerbot) to having strangers sleep in your apartment and treat it like a hotel (Airbnb). He’s also invested in Business Insider and now, The Washington Post (is there a connection?). This is all through his personal private investment firm, Bezos Expeditions. He has a net worth of $25.5 billion so, he can afford to go on safari and blow through a couple of billion. Who wouldn’t do the same under the circumstances?!
The NY Times thinks that newspapers are the new billionaire trophies:
Just $250 million.
That’s all Jeffrey P. Bezos paid on Monday for The Washington Post, which was once worth several billion dollars.
$70 million. That’s all John Henry paid on Friday for The Boston Globe, a paper The New York Times had acquired for $1.1 billion in 1993.
Well, maybe Jeff has some ideas of his own. Maybe Jeff knows a thing or two about working on slim margins and scaling up a business. Maybe he knows how to get traditional media companies to become scalable digital entities that can produce digital goods at a fraction of the cost of their print forefathers. Heck, he told book publishers what’s what about the Internet.
Or maybe, he knows that quality always sells and he is sick of reading Amazon’s user reviews.
Or maybe, he is thinking that he gets a flagship product for his burgeoning tablet business. I mean, subscribe to The Washington Post and get a Kindle for free (save trees, postage etc. etc.). That’s a pretty compelling flagship content product for your device right there.
Really, the pundits can say all they want. No one knows what Bezos is thinking but, if you read TGD, you know how much crap there is to read on the Internet. People will eventually get tired of pictures of cats doing stuff, and seeing photo montages from people’s Instagram/Facebook/Reddit feeds. They’ll want to stick to things that matter, and have substance.
Lest we forget, AOL bought the excrement that is The Huffington Post for $300 million in cash. Bezos got himself a steal.