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Looks like Bezos has a propaganda arm now.

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.




Is there anyone rich enough to buy a newspaper who wouldn't have a conflict of interest? Is there any human alive who wouldn't have a conflict of interest?


Of course not.

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.


Honestly, I'm kind of happy that there's at least one person who knows the difference between HTML and TCP/IP helping to shape the conversation now.


Why?


I think because it is incredibly dangerous to have people who don't understand a subject passing legislation/informing public opinion on that subject.

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.


What do you imagine his role is? Editor? Tech journalist?


That is, not applaud powerful people getting even more powerful.

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.


You do realize that you're posting this comment on the propaganda arm of Y Combinator and PG right?


You're comparing HN to the Washington Post?

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.


... a thoughtful community... (with loads of links to YCombinator startups forced in between)


I think he cares more about it being on the Kindle and the Fire than using it as his mouthpiece.


I agree, in the short run.

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 :/


If that was the goal he would have had Amazon buy the company. Instead it's a "personal" acquisition.

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.


It could be that it was a personal acquisition because Amazon isn't making a much of a net profit, and buying the Washington Post would cause Amazon stock prices to tank.


Is reporting a profession? What will the staff of WaPo do while Bezos is twisting "the discourse, debate, and policy"? Will they fade away quietly?


They will fall in line if they want to keep their job, just as they always have.


Watch The Wire. Specifically, Season 5.


I think that's an appropriate analysis; however, it would hold true for most people able to buy a newspaper and I have no specific fears heading in. That's pretty good given the current political climate.


Vigilance is the price of freedom and liberty.


The same could be said about any prospective owner of a newspaper. Is Bezos owning media interests really worse than anybody else? I'd argue that a new entrant into news media is much preferable to further consolidation of media among the currently small set of big players in the industry.


OK, the only ideal owners of a newspaper would be anthropologists from another planet who cared nothing about Earth affairs and only documented what they saw. But even failing that, you seem to see better journalism from competing groups of intellectually honest yet openly biased sources than from supposedly unbiased sources. With biased sources, you can just read every side and form your own opinion. With supposedly unbiased sources, you'd have to do the same thing anyway but it's much harder to figure out what their biases were to begin with.

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.


I am informed because i gather both sides of the arguement when I watch CNN and fox news!


Impartiality: the American left and the American right!

It's all that matters. :P


Well yeah, that's my point--both of those sources claim to be unbiased, and neither of them are intellectually honest.


That's certainly a valid perspective, but it's not the only one. Why not a market with both?


Well I'm not going to go and stop people from trying to set up impartial newspapers. I just suspect it's a fools errand in the long run.


> The man can do what he wants but the public probably shouldn't applaud this.

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.


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.

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.


Two successful approaches would have been freemium with a paid tier or multiple micro payments through an app just like today's in-app purchases. However no good mechanism was used and news outlets used the web as an advertising venue for themselves and as an advertising source of revenue. Both didn't have much ROI.


The public loses when a news source losses all credibility for being unbiased. We need more news organizations that are doing real hard hitting journalism and fewer media mouth pieces...long term this is not a good thing...


You have a media mouthpiece owned by Bezos. Don't complain too much. My choices for national media mouthpieces are owned by: Rupert Murdoch, Gina Rhinehart, The Australian Government.


Rinehart only owns 15% of Fairfax.

Also, what about all the TV and radio networks? Their ownership is wider than the three people you list.


Those 3 names feature pretty prominently in TV ownership. The two dedicated news services are Murdoch (sky) and govt (abc24). Rinehart also has a decent chunk of 10.

So I guess there's Kerry Stokes. And whoever is looking after 9 these days.


How can you characterize the Post pre-Bezos as being unbiased? Different biases, to be sure, but no news organization is free from bias.


Note that Amazon didn't buy the Washington Post.


It would be naive to think that the paper will produce an article that disparages Amazon's labor and business practices, now that it is owned by the same man that is the CEO of Amazon. I'm not sure what his stake is in the company, but I assume it's significant to raise this issue.


Given the traditional separation of editorial and business in newspapers, I wouldn't be shocked if the Post ran an Amazon hit piece just to test the boundaries.


The fact that this seems very plausible ought to give us pause when the actual event convinces us that they're still independent.


Damned if they do, damned if they don't?

That is a convenient position to hold. You can't be wrong!


> give us pause

Parent's point is that WaPo/Bezos shouldn't be damned either way in this case.


When he starts firing editors and controlling output, sure.




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