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Jeff Bezos rescues a Post from a Great Decoupling

Jeff Bezos at a Web 2.0 conference in 2004 (Photo by JD Lasica).

Amazon commander competence interpose broadcasting establishment with much-needed tech innovation

JD LasicaHello, Jeff Bezos, and acquire to a Great Decoupling.

Over a past decade I’ve given a array of talks about a destiny of broadcasting and media, from a conference during Princeton University to 3 row discussions about a Future of Media in Silicon Valley. The common thread is what I’ve called the Great Decoupling –  a thought that a daily high-quality broadcasting can't be postulated if it’s nude from a moorings: a flotsam and flint of newspapers (crossword puzzles, comics, horoscopes, recommendation columns) and magazines (Vanity Fair’s scented ads, that we put adult with usually since it supports good writing).

As a outcome of technology’s Great Decoupling, news has been decoupled from a containers, from a vessels. We wish a news and media friction-free. We wish it on a inclination on a terms, in a elite format, either that’s around a website, inscription mechanism or, yes, a Kindle Fire. And that comes during a cost, as decades-old business models are upended.


As readers flay divided from newspapers and normal publications in preference of blogs, niche publications, Internet TV and other choice media, a cost of this intrusion is clear for all to see: reduction in-depth reporting, reduction inquisitive broadcasting (the few remaining inquisitive reporters spend half their time in courtrooms or prison), reduction critical open sermon and fewer unfamiliar news bureaus. In a place: a media daze appurtenance charity fact-free cubbyholes of comfort to a severely underinformed republic careening from one inhabitant difficulty after another.

It surprises me how many shining people, including Silicon Valley and Beltway heavyweights, don’t conclude a purpose that family dynasties — a Sulzbergers, Grahams, Chandlers — have played over a years in ancillary broadcasting that serves a open good. More mostly than not, good broadcasting never has and never will be a distinction center. (I worked for a Sacramento Bee when it was run as a civic-minded establishment and when it was run as a open company, and a disproportion was striking.)

Which move us behind to Jeff Bezos. A new epoch in broadcasting kicked off yesterday with a announcement that Bezos — one of a smartest minds in a record margin — had concluded to buy a Washington Post for $250 million. This reminds me of another good tech thunderclap — when Google discovered YouTube, that was draining income profusely, from certain unconcern by shopping it for $1.6 billion in 2006.

Here are some reactions to a astonishing news from around a Twittersphere:


Early reaction: Cautious optimism

And here are some early reactions from around a blogosphere and mediasphere:

Jeff Jarvis:

I wish and urge a genuine value he brings is his entrepreneurship, his innovation, his experience, and his uninformed perspective, enabling him to reimagine news as an enterprise. …

Bezos’ pivotal cunning is in building relationships. This is sad meditative on my part, as we have been arguing that we in broadcasting need to stop meditative of ourselves as manufacturers of a mass commodity called calm and start bargain that we are in a use business whose genuine outcome is sensitive people and communities. Thus we contingency be in a relationship business.

I have been arguing with newspapers newly that they contingency accumulate tiny information about their particular users — where they live, where they work, what their pivotal interests are — so they can offer people with larger aptitude and value. we wish that ability — building profiles and regulating them to urge aptitude — is a initial that Bezos brings to a Post.

James Fallows in The Atlantic:

This is a impulse that honestly astounded me. we cruise I’ll remember where we was when we initial listened a news — around Twitter! — and we am sure it will be one of those episode-that-encapsulates-an-era occurrences. Newsweek’s demise, a prolonged time coming, was a teenager trembler by comparison; this is a genuine earthquake. …

For years anyone meditative about a destiny of news has satisfied that, totally on a own, what we cruise “serious” broadcasting has never been a viable business. Foreign reportage, critical inquisitive or government-accountability coverage — functions like these have always been, in mercantile terms, parasites that need to float along on some essential horde body. In a aged days, that was a fat, bundled newspaper, that supposing a operation of information to an assembly with no technological alternative. We’re in a un-bundled epoch now, and critical broadcasting has been looking for new horde bodies — many as aloft education, museums, a excellent arts, etc have also indispensable support over what a flat-out marketplace would provide. …

So let us wish that this is what a sale signifies: a commencement of a proviso in that this Gilded Age’s vital beneficiaries re-invest in a infrastructure of a open intelligence. We wish it outlines a beginning, since we know it outlines an end.

Sarah Lacy in Pando Daily: “The smartest CEO in tech right now competence indeed have a plan” and “There are few people who cruise longer-term than Bezos.”

In a Guardian, Emily Bell called it “a matrimony of aged media and new money” and “a fascinating transition as easterly seashore change passes to Silicon Valley entrepreneurialism.” (Just what a alloy systematic for old-school yet still-relevant journalism, in my view. See my 2010 display on Paths to a new journalism.)

Bell summed it adult nicely:

“Silicon Valley is full of prime group who, a dozen years ago, valid they could make a unfit come true. With his gusto for 10,000-year clocks and a repute built on long-term strategy, Bezos competence be embarking on a plan that many tests his patience. But if he can unequivocally mold something transformational out of aged media with his new money, he will have beaten bigger contingency in a some-more fantastic character than any he has so distant faced.”

I agree. Journalism needs not usually a shot in a arm yet a vital flog in a butt. Silicon Valley (and we can embody Bezos in that club, even yet he’s formed in Seattle) can learn broadcasting not only about efficiencies yet about innovation, experimentation, adventurous to attain by adventurous to fail. It will be a fascinating, fascinating routine to watch in a years to come.

I’m not sanguinary any time vast income swoops in and takes over a vital news outlet. But in this case, we am hopeful. Good luck, Mr. Bezos!

Postscript: I’ve attempted several times now to emanate a Storify, including this one, but success. Every time it tells me ”twitter temperament already trustworthy to jdlasica,” and so it can’t. Um. That’s me.


Paths to a new journalism (Socialmedia.biz)
If newspapers disappear, will it matter? (Socialmedia.biz)
Newspapers and blue sky thinking (Socialmedia.biz)
Time for innovative news models (Socialmedia.biz)
Surveying a new media landscape (Socialmedia.biz)
Wrapping Up WeMedia (Socialmedia.biz)
A array on participatory journalism (Socialmedia.biz)

JD Lasica is owner of Socialmedia.biz. We work with vast and mid-size businesses and organizations on amicable media strategies and optimizing your online presence. Contact JD by email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a criticism below.

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