Sale of Post and Globe signals new era in media ownership

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, introduces the Kindle Fire product line at a news conference on Sept. 6, 2012, in Santa Monica, Calif.
Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

The recent sale of the Boston Globe and the Washington Post, both to businessmen who are billionaires, signals a new era in media ownership.

The biggest headlines went to the deal made by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who bought the Post for $250 million. In Boston, Red Sox owner John Henry paid $70 million for the Globe. Both were cash deals.

The two will take control of properties that are part of an industry in turmoil.

Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi surveyed the landscape: "For much of the past decade, The Post has been unable to escape the financial turmoil that has engulfed newspapers and other 'legacy' media organizations. The rise of the Internet and the epochal change from print to digital technology have created a massive wave of competition for traditional news companies, scattering readers and advertisers across a radically altered news and information landscape and triggering mergers, bankruptcies and consolidation among the owners of print and broadcasting properties."

Newspapers were once powerful, wealthy, independent organizations, media fellow and editor Dean Starkman writes in the Columbia Journalism Review.

"In the new model, on the other hand, the press is not powerful in its own right. The titans' power flows from elsewhere. The press is, in an economic sense, incidental to their wealth. Journalism under this new model is enveloped by, and dependent upon, interests far larger and quite different from its own," he writes.

Starkman and Professor Dean Adair of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University join The Daily Circuit to discuss the impact of new owners in the newspaper business.


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