Why the Sale of the Washington Post Seems So Significant

2013. augusztus 6. 0:07

James Fallows
The Atlantic
We hope it marks a beginning, because we know it marks an end.

„For now I mean only to say: this is a moment that genuinely surprised me. I think I'll remember where I was when I first heard the news -- via Twitter! -- and I am sure it will be one of those episode-that-encapsulates-an-era occurrences. Newsweek's demise, a long time coming, was a minor temblor by comparison; this is a genuine earthquake.

On the brighter side: For years anyone thinking about the future of news has realized that, completely on its own, what we consider "serious" journalism has never been a viable business. Foreign reportage, serious investigative or government-accountability coverage -- functions like these have always been, in economic terms, parasites that need to ride along on some profitable host body. In the old days, that was the fat, bundled newspaper, which provided a range of information to an audience with no technological alternative. We're in the un-bundled era now, and serious journalism has been looking for new host bodies -- much as higher education, museums, the fine arts, etc have also needed support beyond what the flat-out market would provide. The money required to run a news organization is, for this era's new wealthy, relatively modest. I haven't stopped to do the comparisons, but I bet that the investment Jeff Bezos is making (and will need to increase, if he wants to revive the paper) is modest compared with what a previous era's Rockefellers, Carnegies, and Fords decided to put into their universities and foundations.

So let us hope that this is what the sale signifies: the beginning of a phase in which this Gilded Age's major beneficiaries re-invest in the infrastructure of our public intelligence. We hope it marks a beginning, because we know it marks an end.”

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