Why Bezos' Washington Post Buy Matters So Much

'The iceberg just rescued the Titanic'

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 6, 2013 2:18 AM CDT | Updated Aug 6, 2013 7:56 AM CDT

(Newser) – After picking their jaws up off the floor, some pundits are reacting to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' purchase of the Washington Post with cautious optimism.

  • The $250 million deal—which follows a long period of decline at the Post—is "a genuine earthquake" for the world of journalism, writes James Fallows at the Atlantic. On its own, serious journalism has "never been a viable business," he notes, and we can only hope the sale marks "the beginning of a phase in which this Gilded Age's major beneficiaries re-invest in the infrastructure of our public intelligence."

  • After crushing the newspaper industry, the Internet has suddenly come to the rescue of one of the most important papers around, writes Andrew Leonard at Salon. The price tag is pocket change for Bezos, he notes, which makes it possible to hope that he will fund a long period of stability at the paper. "No single company embodies the disruptive, brick-and-mortar-smashing force of the Internet more fully than Amazon," he writes. "Now we’ve come full circle. The iceberg just rescued the Titanic."
  • Bezos and his company, not journalism, will emerge as the big winner from the deal, argues Jeff Bercovici at Forbes. "Amazon already spends millions of dollars lobbying federal officeholders every year," he notes, and the Post purchase could easily pay for itself if it helps the company win friends in high places. Billionaires have long seen owning an influential paper "as a shortcut to achieving influence in government affairs," he writes.
  • Hamilton Nolan at Gawker sounds another note of caution. The newspaper industry is fast becoming a "boutique business for extremely rich people," he writes, and how this turns out "is anyone's guess." Amazon recently landed a $600 million CIA computing contract, he notes—so reporters who have spent their careers trying to penetrate government secrecy now have a "huge CIA contractor" for a boss.
Click for another take from Matthew Yglesias, who, writing for Slate, argues that the "era of family newspapers is back."

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos laughs during an interview.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos laughs during an interview.   (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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This will be uncharted terrain and it will require experimentation. - Jeff Bezos on the buy

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