When media do attempt real reporting—say, a well-researched piece on some government wrongdoing—their publishers are threatened by government officials with, say, an extra business tax or revocation of an important contract. So they ask their editors to stop. This is especially true in Turkey, say press watchdogs like the Committee to Protect Journalists and Freedom House.

As a result, media in countries with a high concentration of tycoon ownership tend to keep their owners happy by covering safe topics, like sports and entertainment.

In western Europe and North America, there is a stronger tradition of free press. Attempts at manipulation are likely to be reported. Bezos has stated that he will not exercise editorial control. So far Les Echos, Le Monde and El Pais have remained independent.

Whether they will continue to be centers for hard-hitting, serious news may be another matter.

 

Alison Langley has more than 25 years experience in journalism as a reporter and editor. Her stories have appeared in a variety of publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, The FT and The Independent. She currently lectures in journalism at Fachhochschule Wien and Webster University Vienna.