Tuesday August 13, 2013
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A hundred years ago, when I was the news director at WMOA Radio, 1490 on your AM dial in Marietta, Ohio 45750; I read that there was an editor - probably in New York - who would mark up copy with the letters M.E.G.O.
The acronym meant: My Eyes Glaze Over - the piece was so boring as to make him enter alpha wave mode such as I go into when I'm behind a high school class trying to get through the TSA security area.
Living in Our Nation's Capital we have many opportunities to be bored by long explanations by powerful people telling us why something can't get done - that it's too complicated for mere mortals such as myself to understand.
Sort of a reconciliation of sequestration leading to demagoguery borne of gerrymandering that allows a cacophony of calumny by a growing number of desiccated Members of the U.S. House and Senate.
How are your eyes, now?
The August story for 2013 is the purchase of the Washington Post by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. The Post, not wanting to get beaten by anyone else on its own story, has published what seems like hundreds of thousands of words about just how wonderful this is going to be for American journalism - and maybe all journalism in the near Solar System.
In one piece outgoing owner Donald Graham waxed rhapsodic about how he has known Bezos for lo these many years and, not unlike George W. and Vladimir Putin, looked into his soul and saw a newspaper man.
In a later piece Mr. Graham got off script and said that, while taking a walk in Aspen, summer retreat of choice for soulful newspapermen, Bezos asked Graham how much he wanted for the paper.
Graham said, $250,000,000. Bezos said, effectively, "Sold." And a newspaperman's soul was born.
According to Forbes, Mr. Bezos is worth about $28 billion. The Post recently reported losses in its print division of $14.8 million for the second quarter. Annualized that racks up operating losses from the news business of just shy of $60 million.
At that rate, assuming he doesn't make another dime from any other source, Bezos will run out of money sometime during the year 2480.
Sort of a Zager and Evans-esque purchase when looked upon that way.
I have nothing against Bezos or Amazon. I'm an Amazon Prime guy. I buy things from Amazon and from its cousin, Audible.com, all the time. Neither do I have anything against Don Graham whom I have never met but everyone who ever has met him speaks glowingly of his brains, wit, and style.
I'm just sick and tired of all this navel gazing about how Bezos is going to "disrupt" the news biz just as he has with the book and retailing industries.
Maybe he will, and maybe I hope he does; but, if he had purchased, say, a steel company or a copper mine there would not be this level of discussion.
Even if he had purchased the Kansas City Star or the Houston Chronicle there would have been a few passing nods of interest by the coastal media, but the Washington Post?
THE Washington Post.
That puts you in the club with a lifetime front table at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
It was amusing to watch the owners of the New York Times quickly announce that their paper was not for sale, although the New York Post and Daily News should stake out Mayor Michael Bloomberg's (net worth $27 billion) digs to see if Times chairman Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. or any member of his family is seen sneaking in or out.
The best Tweet about the sale was by someone who wrote:
The WASHINGTON Post.
The Washington POST.
Now that you've bought the Washington Post, you might also be interested in these papers: The Chi Tribune, the Balt Sun, & the Miami Herald.
The deal won't even close for another couple of months but already my eyes have glazed over.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the Post's first major story about its sale, to the Forbes magazine discussion of Bezos' net worth, and to Zager & Evans.
Also a really good Mullfoto from the Blue Ridge Mountains.
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