It’s a brave new world for media. Reading responses from journalists like Nick Kristof, David Sirota, and Neil Irwin (of Wonkblog at WaPo), the reaction to Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post seems to gravitate towards two responses: “Traditional journalism can’t survive when wealthy elites can swoop up newsrooms as their playthings and personal soapboxes!” and “Traditional journalism can’t survive with its current business model, maybe Jeff Bezos is just what we need!”
To illustrate, here are two representative tweets:
Like every industry that was founded in a time when sharing information involved considerable costs, large newspapers are struggling to reinvent their business model while staying true to their highest purpose: to inform the public so that they can make informed decisions and hold those in power accountable. Of course, newspapers already do a poor job meeting this admittedly lofty goal even in the current advertiser and subscription-based model. This leaves the question: how will they change in this brave new world of journalism that seems imminent? The anxiety journalists feel about this stems from their own job security, but also about the future of their profession. Can print media use this moment of crisis to reinvent itself in ways that will bolster its finances and commitment to great journalism? Or will it allow itself to be dwindled into a collection of charity cases that only the already-wealthy – those with invested interests – will bother to take on? As an avid consumer of electronic print media, I hope the answer is the former.