Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Internet retail giant Amazon, has bought The Washington Post for $250 million. He has bought it as an individual, not as Amazon. This makes Bezos, a leading light in the digital, online world thanks to his disrupting of the bricks-and-mortar order of things, a press baron who single-handedly owns a famous newspaper. A print newspaper.
These are the worlds of old media and new media colliding in spectacular fashion, once again raising the debate over where the future of news lies. No one is yet clear about the motivations behind the acquisition. Bezos could be displaying old-skool philanthropy, giving up a mere 1% of his $25 billion fortune to save an ailing institution. Or he could have a much less kindly ulterior motive to buying The Washington Post.
The truth will be out in the end, but in the meantime we can use the news of the purchase to discuss the future for news, and the battle between print and digital that is currently raging hard.
This Week’s Question…
We want to know, Print Vs. Digital: What Is The Future For News? This is, on the face of it at least, a very simple question. Imagine yourself consuming news content — be it simple reporting, in-depth investigations, editorials, or opinion pieces — in a few years time and tell us what medium you see yourself using.
It’s a well-known fact that the print editions of newspapers are struggling to make ends meet, with circulations dropping for most publications. This is primarily as a result of the Internet, and in particular the growing number of news websites, and the growing number of people who can access these at any time of the day and night.
The problem is that many news stories reported online are sourced from the major news organizations, who have the resources and journalists needed to actually break news. So it’s a Catch-22 in which we need the very publications that are dying as a result of the way the Web assimilates news stories.
To counter this, many newspapers have their own websites, and some have hidden the content behind paywalls in an attempt to switch offline revenue to online revenue. But paywalls are even less popular than advertising as a way of making money, so the majority of people are unwilling to pay for news they feel they can get elsewhere.
With all that in mind, please let us know your thoughts on the subject. Can print survive in this Internet-driven age? Are paywalls a good idea or a hiding to nothing? Will the quality of journalism decline with a move to the Web? What should Jeff Bezos do with The Washington Post?
All comments will be digested to form conclusions in a follow-up post next week where we will detail what You Told Us. One reader will be chosen for the coveted Comment Of The Week, getting their name up in lights, the respect of other readers, and a T-shirt. What more motivation than that do you need to respond?
We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. The questions asked are usually open-ended and likely to necessitate a discussion. Some are opinion-based, while others see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to the MakeUseOf readership. This column is nothing without you, as MakeUseOf is nothing without you.
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