In the Guardian, she also wrote that Bezos’s decision to buy the Washington Post was “not a business deal” but “a cultural statement”:
News is not the industry that it once was, or an industry at all. It is a cultural good, the format and delivery of which needs remaking for a different set of consumer needs and capabilities.
But Bell, who is on CJR’s Board of Overseers, doesn’t think Bezos is a philanthropist and argued no one else should either—sentiments vociferously shared by Alec MacGillis at The New Republic.
News of the sale was also particularly embarrassing for The New York Times. The paper featured Katharine Weymouth in its Style section just four days ago, in an article that stressed the continuity of the Graham legacy. Neither Don Graham, the Washington Post Company’s CEO, “nor Ms. Weymouth gave any hint that the company was about to be sold, ” said reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg in an email.
The Wall Street Journal sold six years ago for $5 billion; the WaPo is selling for 1/20th of that. That’s the direction the newspaper business is headed. It is becoming a boutique business for extremely rich people—a way for them to luxuriate in the prestige, and cultural respect, and political influence that newspapers still command, to some extent.
And in case we were in danger of being of being overwhelmed by ornate elegies, Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole tweeted a more trenchant summation of yesterday’s events:
Capitalist Buys Thing.— Teju Cole (@tejucole) August 5, 2013