Every morning while I eat my breakfast I download the Wall Street Journal and times to my iPad, and on the train to work scan them and this weeks Economist for interesting stories of the day, combined with this month's Scientific American, Smithsonian, and Science News.
If I could use Evernote with those "publications" on the iPad I could be very efficient in my collection of various inputs on news of the day. For now, I'm constrained to making notes to myself in my notebook.
To pull an interesting analogy here, Google sees everything through the lens of "You will be connected 100% of the time to the network." which is their future point that they are building systems around, sometimes today they seem ungainly or even useless when no network is available. Jeff (and Amazon) seems to see everything through the lens of "You will consume all of your media on a tablet like device." and building around the complete media experience there.
How much is it worth to have the WaPo as a mouthpiece?
As far as I'm concerned, AMZN already has plenty of brand recognition to talk about any technological innovation they might integrate with the WaPo brand. I look forward to AMZN playing its cards in the space and seeing if they can compete against a truly focused and unencumbered competitor.
Production is easy, discovery and profitability are the problems.
Best wishes, Bezos!
I agree, and that is what makes this so interesting. Lets say you had a 'kindle store' like thing but it was "News for You", and it had a search box kind of like a search engine box, but you could pull up your Kindle, any time something was happening, and type "Boston Bombing" into the search box, And poof you'd get all the stories about the Boston Bombing available to read after downloading them over the cellular network. Can you buy "inches of news" like you buy cellular minutes? With a roll over plan?
There are some tremendously disruptive businesses here.
So far the creation aspect is almost entirely dominated by ordinary citizens. With nearly everyone carrying internet-connected devices for photo, video and text input, there's simply no way a news organization, no matter how large or well funded, can keep up.
Where "News" is still lacking now has more to do with the latter two points. The best content is invariably on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Vine, etc. but finding that needle in the haystack that is a news event is borderline impossible for the "ordinary citizen." Even the major news organizations are largely poring over the data that comes in and trying to find the best stuff. The third part - the fact checking- not many have time for anymore. The world moves so quickly that verifying accuracy is much less beneficial than seeking the next scoop. News orgs can move fast, make mistakes, and issue retractions later if they were wrong. Or they can just say "we're getting reports that..." (Translation: "We're watching Twitter and people are saying...")
I truly believe that creating a system that allows ordinary citizens to curate (vote on) and fact check the firehose of information flowing through social media networks is the bright, sustainable, profitable (!) future of journalism.
Full disclosure: I've been building and testing a product for a year that does precisely that, so I'm a little bit biased.
Not true at all. The in depth long-form journalism that e.g. Matt Taibi does at Rolling Stone http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog cannot be done by people who have day jobs with smartphone on a street corner. And it's thousands of times more valuable than the "man bites dog" type of stories that Joe Smartphone can capture.
Another journalist friend once managed to work on something like that on his own, but only through crowdfunding.
Good journalism is expensive!
We spent a significant portion of the classes just learning how to write news items. The teacher then told us that what we were doing one day a week for six months is what full-time journalism students spend an entire year doing, and that this is much of what they'll be doing once they enter the job market.
She specifically advised those of us interested in being journalists to just get really good in our academic field, and move into journalism as 'specialists' from there.
In my opinion this is very shortsighted and arguably the most commonly misconceived part of "today's" journalism. "Journalistic institutions" are commonly referred to in business as Publishers. Publishing has one very specific goal, just like any other business that exists, which is simply to make money.
I agree. The problem is that this effort should not be monetized, or at least it should be monetized in a way that doesn't bias and obfuscated the proper dissemination of information. I can't grok a single possible way of this concept to exist in harmony. Good on you (and your team?) to try to tackle this.
But I agree, finding a way to crowdsource all three points of journalism without it becoming a mob (see reddit after the boston bombing) sounds like exactly the sort of newsource I would be interested in.
The problem with Reddit is upvotes encourage sensationalism (that's what Reddit is, after all), but there's no feature to reign it in or induce some sanity. That's why having a fact check built in is critical.
Bezos has liquidated so much AMZN stock he doesn't need AMZN's balance sheet for a piddly $250mm transaction. He might even figure out how to do something he hasn't done at AMZN and that's turn a profit. The last I checked, AMZN still had an infinite PE.
By keeping WaPo remote he can at least create the appearance that AMZN is corporately neutral for whatever news platform ideas AMZN pursues.
You mean like the $645MM profit they made in 2008, the $902MM profit they made in 2009, the $1.15BN profit in 2010, or $631MM profit in 2011?
Or is all that nullified by the $39MM loss in 2012 (due to LivingSocial)?
Guess that's what commerce should be about, cash instead of margin. Aldi, a pretty big german discounter of grocceries, works that way and became huge. That they are loosing right now against "new" entrants is a different thing.
But having seen time and again profitable companies struggle in time of crisis simply because they run out of cash, I'd rather back a company like Amazon.
Unless you have some blue chip giving out dividends, no one cares much about profit.
Claiming credit for the NSA story seems disingenuous at best, especially given their antagonism towards Snowden:
EDIT: While acknowledging the WaPo's significant contributions in the early 70s, it seems like they lost their way somewhere along the line:
Washington Post Kills Account of Its Failures in Iraq Reporting and Runs a Defense Instead
Especially a paper like the Washington Post which has a ridiculous number of opinion writers on staff.
And by the way, at the time of writing 27 of the top 30 articles don't mention Snowden in the comments, so...
So the comment was both off topic and toxic towards what it wanted to advance.
(Please do not get rid of any Snowden comments/posts on HN until the Police State is dismantled, hopefully by mid-next week.
Feel free to bury your head in the sand.
From reading this I can understand the antagonism towards Snowden. He deserves it.
Glenn Greenwald broke the story in the Guardian.
Although the Guardian and the Post published nearly simultaneously on the PRISM story, it looks like the Post may have beaten the Guardian, only just, in getting the story live.
I believe what you are referring to is the initial Verizon FISA story that started the whole thing.
- Good. I hope it's a fresh issue?
The Washington Post is an important institution for the USA, and comments like this make it seem that Bezos will be a good steward. I hope, and am fairly certain, that this is a good thing for everyone involved.
As far as I know, he has no experience in reporting the unbiased truth and a lot of experience in selling stuff.
Update: Slashdot founder Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda (who was hired by WaPo Labs last year) confirms on Google+ that he and his team aren't going with the paper: https://plus.google.com/+CmdrTaco/posts/1V2ZpbjcgbB
Yea, I hope his boss doesn't put him on a reporting job.
I mean, sorry for the cynicism, but this is an obvious conflict of interest. Retail, distribution, infrastructure, and now politics & media.
The man can do what he wants but the public probably shouldn't applaud this.
Doesn't mean we can't raise awareness of it each time it happens. That is, not applaud powerful people getting even more powerful.
There are also alternative forms of ownership, but that's a more complex subject not fit for a message board.
At the very least it is a situation ripe for misunderstandings leading to bad end results and at the worst is fertile ground for lobbyists and special interests.
I've read here a hundred times complaints that mainstream media don't cover tech news as it should and I tend to agree.
Bezos is a rich, powerful man. But it's "our" rich, powerful man, so I for one, am happy with this acquisition.
We happen to be a thoughtful community and a decent newsreader without (a lot of) hierarchy. If it migrates elsewhere, I will as well. I find many of Graham's old essays amusing in the abstract sense (they're Austrian Economics rehashed in the language of computer science), but question his intentions.
I suspect it's a power grab for influence in the long-term. Big media shapes the discourse, debate, and policy of the country. He can be a much more effective broker of business and societal matters now that he manages "the truth."
I think, at least :/
It's possible this is an elaborate ruse to fool the Graham family into selling their crown jewel (reputationally, at least. The Kaplan test preparation unit is the tail that now wags the profit dog at Washington Post, Inc., as I understand it.). However, that seems like a stretch. I'd much rather have a paper run as a hobby by a man (even a profoundly eccentric one) who can afford it than a board desperate to maximize quarterly earnings.
And sure, people can be intellectually lazy and only read sources that they agree with, but the fallacy of unbiased journalism is that a handful of media outlets will end up providing that anyway, just with the illusion of impartiality.
It's all that matters. :P
I kinda disagree with you on this one. Not only will something like the Kindle and Kindle apps benefit, but this is a huge win since the old style of media wasn't capable of figuring out how to stay in business. The reason why the Kindle, iTunes, Google Play or any other store is succeeding while the rest are failing is because all the rest didn't have monetized digital distribution mechanisms. All media was given out for free and now you can't stay in business if you decide to pay-wall your website. They weren't smart about it. However all other walled gardens are thriving because they are monetized from the get go and an effort has been made to make them simple to use.
The public is the winner here, and the Kindle. The only loser is probably B&N.
I submit that there was no possible set of actions the newspapers could have taken, including worldwide oligopolistic collusion, which could have produced a market in which any but a few "luxury" brands can charge media consumers directly. The basic service of telling us what happened over the last 12 hours is one that wants to be free.
Also, what about all the TV and radio networks? Their ownership is wider than the three people you list.
So I guess there's Kerry Stokes. And whoever is looking after 9 these days.
That is a convenient position to hold. You can't be wrong!
Parent's point is that WaPo/Bezos shouldn't be damned either way in this case.
>The deal does not include the company’s headquarters on 15th St. NW in Washington (the building has been for sale since February), or Foreign Policy magazine, Slate.com, the Root.com, the WaPo Labs digital-development operation or Post-owned land along the Potomac River in Alexandria.
(see showherst's comment for accuracy)
EDIT: Nope, just the newspapers. See the press release -
The transaction covers The Washington Post and other publishing businesses, including the Express newspaper, The Gazette Newspapers, Southern Maryland Newspapers, Fairfax County Times, El Tiempo Latino and Greater Washington Publishing.
Slate magazine, TheRoot.com and Foreign Policy are not part of the transaction and will remain with The Washington Post Company, as will the WaPo Labs and SocialCode businesses, the Company’s interest in Classified Ventures and certain real estate assets, including the headquarters building in downtown Washington, DC. The Washington Post Company, which also owns Kaplan, Post–Newsweek Stations and Cable ONE, will be changing its name in connection with the transaction; no new name has yet been announced
Buffett, 81, has been expanding Berkshire’s media operations in the past year as he wagers that publications focused on local communities can withstand the shift of readers and advertisers to the Internet. The billionaire’s firm bought the publisher of his hometown paper, the Omaha World-Herald Co., in December, and acquired 63 daily and weekly newspapers from Media General Inc. (MEG) for $142 million last month.
Local papers vs something larger like WaPo.
While Buffett’s firm holds the largest stake in Washington Post Co. (WPO) and has shares of Gannett Co., he said Berkshire is less likely to make more stock market investments in the industry.
Half of what I read is bull and the other half is shit.
My money's on Jeff - he's got something up his sleeve here.
I regard earning money in a productive fashion and without the use of force to be one of the greatest things a person can do. That's my belief, and I don't force anybody else to agree with me.
There are radically cheaper ways to have influence. He could set up a PAC, seed it with $50 million, and directly buy whatever influence he needs.
The thing about buying one of the few really national papers and slanting its coverage: your competitors will have a field day and it won't be long before your paper is a joke that nobody takes seriously.
I don't think he has much room to abuse this for influence.
Calling people and starting a PAC with a transparent agenda is not nearly as powerful as controlling one of the few trusted, prestigious political news outlets left. You can influence operations without directly interfering in the newsroom, and you can do so while appearing to give the paper autonomy. The fact that flagrant, visible abuse would be self-defeating doesn't really tell us anything.
I guess I'd ask this: if the newspaper is not valuable for its influence, why buy it at all? It will not make him money, he is not bored. Even if he is buying it to keep it out of other hands, that remains an agenda and an active use of influence.
Washington doesn't have room for another joke of a paper that nobody takes seriously!
Major newspapers have been systemically biased for decades but many people still take them seriously.
A 1000 times. At least it won't turn into the next PandoDaily(and its BeachMint fiasco).
The Washington Post seems to have an incredible reputation (especially if they really did break the Pentagon Papers and others) and be a fun purchase if you have f-you money.
He paid $11 million and is getting about $44 million after 40 years of holding it. That's kind of lousy rate of return, and the newspaper business has some question marks. So I can see why he might not be interested in buying it. And if Bezos is buying the paper for civic-minded reasons, I could see Buffet encouraging him.
And nothing will change.
I was surprised when Jack Welsh (x GE) wanted to buy the Boston Globe (he backed out). He realized the the shine was one of the past. It's interesting that Bezos sees value here but I think the value is in the same sense taking a small part of his billions and buying something that is a legend. (After all rich people buy art and other trinkets because they can so why not a newspaper?).
Although, to his credit, he and his wife did kick in $2.5mm to the Washington state marriage equality referendum last November: http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2012/07/27/jeff-be...
Is Jeff pursuing a content strategy? Washington Post for investigation and Business Insider for Biz news would be great.
Personally I'd rather have Jeff Bezos than Rupert Murdoch, but maybe that's just me...
Murdoch is easily one of the most evil people to have ever walked on this planet. He enabled the Iraq war which has seen a mass loss of life for no real gain. He supported the widespread hacking of UK citizens. His meddling in politics and elections in the UK, US and Australia is unprecedented, brazen and has unquestionably undermined democracy.
Even now he flew over an Editor from the NY Post to Australia to influence the election here who already is shocking the political scene here.
He didn't take a negative or neutral position. He actively campaigned for it across three continents (UK, US and Australia). And it has been widely reported that Blair was heavily influenced by Murdoch.
The NYT didn't officially take a position. It just failed in its duty to check the facts.
Even if I were to believe that, it would be an odd comparison to make.
Yeah him and healthy majorities of both houses of Congress. Did Parliament not get the memo?
Was that undermining democracy?
On the first day of an election campaign the headline was:
"Finally you now have the chance to KICK THIS MOB OUT"
That is undermining democracy.
Hmm! Didn't notice that, interesting.
Just watch as the rest of the baby boomer generation die off and hand over their assets.
The question would seem to be, whether Bezos intends to run a tight profitable ship, or if he is willing to forgo the profits for a larger staff. I'm hoping he has something creative in mind, a new business model that isn't free+ads or just a copy of what the NYT is doing.
WaPo is #8 by its daily circulation in the US, and #4 for its Sunday circulation.
Think of it this way: Jeff Bezos is a majority shareholder (at least according to reports, he is not taking on the chairman/CEO role).
Normally, the only control a majority shareholder has is to elect/remove the board.
If he attempts to effect other control, particularly by suggestion to the board/whatever, they need to make disinterested decisions.
So the short answer to your question is "always". Every board decision needs to be made by disinterested directors after full disclosure of the facts by any interested directors. Anything else would be a self-dealing transaction, and would possibly subject them to personal liability.
> "Bezos himself will buy the news organization and become its sole owner when the sale is completed, probably within 60 days."
It also has a board of directors and a chairman of the board/CEO (which is who the "Don" guy he talks about is).
This is also explained in The Washington Post Company's August 5th 8K filing with the SEC, which states unambiguously "the Purchaser will acquire all the issued and outstanding equity securities of [...]" and "The Purchaser will not acquire the Company’s interests in [...]".:
> On August 5, 2013, The Washington Post Company (the “Company”), entered into a binding letter agreement (the “Letter Agreement”) with Nash Holdings LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (the “Purchaser”), and Explore Holdings LLC, a Washington limited liability company, as guarantor (the “Guarantor”), pursuant to which the Purchaser will acquire all the issued and outstanding equity securities of each of WP Company LLC, Express Publications Company, LLC, El Tiempo Latino, LLC, Robinson Terminal Warehouse, LLC, Greater Washington Publishing, LLC and Post-Newsweek Media, LLC (the “Publishing Subsidiaries”). The Publishing Subsidiaries together conduct most of the Company’s publishing businesses, including publishing The Washington Post, Express, The Gazette Newspapers, Southern Maryland Newspapers, Fairfax County Times and El Tiempo Latino and related websites, and operating Washington Post Live and Washington Post News Media Services and the Company’s commercial printing and distribution business and paper handling and storage business (collectively, the “Publishing Business”). The Purchaser will also acquire all other assets of the Company primarily related to the Publishing Business, including all of the Company’s rights in the name “The Washington Post”. The Company will change its corporate name within 60 days following the closing. The Purchaser will not acquire the Company’s interests in Classified Ventures, LLC, The Slate Group LLC, The FP Group, WaPo Labs and certain excluded real estate. Liabilities and assets under the Retirement Plan for The Washington Post Companies relating to the active employees of the Publishing Business will be transferred to the Purchaser.
"WP Company LLC", in particular, is the newspaper The Washington Post. See e.g.  which says "WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post.".
You can further consult The Washington Post Company's press release, which again states:
> Slate magazine, TheRoot.com and Foreign Policy are not part of the transaction and will remain with The Washington Post Company, as will the WaPo Labs and SocialCode businesses, the Company’s interest in Classified Ventures and certain real estate assets, including the headquarters building in downtown Washington, DC. The Washington Post Company, which also owns Kaplan, Post–Newsweek Stations and Cable ONE, will be changing its name in connection with the transaction; no new name has yet been announced.
I have never really been drawn to the Kindle for books (except the large-but-expensive model) but it would be ideal for daily news - in fact the screen seems to pick up where newsprint left off. I'm old-fashioned enough to even like the idea of having everything in black & white.
* Much larger viewing area than an iPad
* It's more compact than an iPad
* It's cheaper than an iPad
* It's disposable
* It's recyclable
* You can use it in places digital media aren't allowed
(security buildings, airplane takeoff/landing, subway, etc)
* You don't have to know how to use it
* You don't need a data plan or need to use a computer
* You don't have to recharge it
Nobody is saying that Bezos will be a steward of good journalism (I can't see him doing much worse as the head of a major news medium than Rupert Murdoch, though) and has reasons to buy the paper that go beyond, ultimately, making more money.
But from a technology enthusiast standpoint, it can't be denied that the guy has a amazing track record of innovating the sectors he has been involved in, and personally I'm curious to see how he will tackle this one.
The main takeaway from the story, in my opinion, is seeing a steady trend of the "new" technology companies trying to get in a position of influence, like Facebook interested in getting into politics, Google having already plenty of lobbying/funding activities, and now Amazon getting its own paper...
Worst compliment ever.
created: 9 days ago
Has to be a record.
"There is no map" -from a proven visionary worth $25.2B, leaves a whole lot of successful innovations and failures open.
> Weymouth said the decision to sell The Post sprang from annual budget discussions she had with Graham late last year. “We talked about whether [The Washington Post Co.] was the right place to house The Post,” she said. “If journalism is the mission, given the pressures to cut costs and make profits, maybe [a publicly traded company] is not the best place for The Post.”
Does this mean that the future of much of journalism is in the non-profit sector (think NPR)?
Could be but I don't think that's the case. I think there is something else going on here either vanity or some underlying access or asset that provides much greater value to Bezos that has not much to do with Amazon either.
I mean if you have that much money you can afford to buy and have it lose money for years just for other valuable benefits and access. WP is a mouthpiece he could swing elections (influence is way beyond their circulation).
You can, but you can also believe in journalism and be willing to spend some of your money on keeping it alive.
Not sure we can really make an automatic judgement either way.
If that's actually new, Bezos sure didn't waste any time monetizing things.
Can't wait for it to become another CNBC infomercial.
Being owned by a massive non-media-related corporation would be concerning, but this is Bezos personally.
For journalism to be truth, it must remain independent.