If you are a journalist, the idea of the Post being sold is stunning. The New York Times just ran a piece on Sunday about the “next edition,” talking about how Katharine Weymouth would follow in Kay Graham’s footsteps, so the expectation was that the family would keep control and do what it’s always done–produce the best all-around newspaper in the nation.
But I suppose the business pressures were just too high.
Still, $250 million is just depressing in terms of what it says about the value of newspapers.
$250 million is what a baseball team pays for a couple of starting pitchers. Maybe an outfielder.
That’s for perspective.
To keep it to just newspapers, in 1993, the New York Times bought the Boston Globe of $1.1 billion.
Last week, the Times sold the Boston Globe for $70 million. Slate reports that with the pensions involved the actual price is around -$40 million. That’s minus $40 million!
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos may be the best possible buyer for the Post. As an internet baron, he’s well positioned for any upside in newspapers’ digital future. How can he not succeed fabulously?
Not only has he purchased a massive content machine for all his Kindles, as the Post’s owner, Bezos’ starts at the top, poised to go higher. In an instant, he becomes the industry leader in a new age of journalism.
UPDATE:8/6/13 8:31 a.m.PDT
But is it a “golden age”?
As I thought about Post being bought, I first was shocked by the amount. $250 million? As I said, this is what a star athlete makes. The Giant’s Barry Zito and a player to be named later come to mind. That’s not exactly Woodward and Bernstein.
I tweeted something about old Posties like Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, who now do their thing on TV, and what the Post could have fetched when they were there. And then it dawned on me that indeed, newspapers are becoming like sports teams, the play things of billionaires.
So, of course, the Red Sox John Henry buys the Boston Globe. And Amazon’s Bezos, of course, buys the Post. And for just $250 million? And they threw in some local shoppers? That’s not full retail, is it?
So now the question is if the Post, and the public, got the right billionaire.
From reading Bezos’ memo to the staff (posted by Poynter), it’s hard to tell. I thought it was straight forward.
But I didn’t become more skeptical until I saw this from Robert McChesney, the co-author of Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America and author of Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy, both published this year. He is professor of communications at the University of Illinois.