BOSTON (CBS) – In just 72 hours we saw the sale of the Boston Globe, Newsweek and the Washington Post. And all were sold at a fraction of their value from even a few years ago.
These are American institutions founded more than a hundred years ago. Yet they were found to be worth little more than the buildings that house them.
So what happened?
Well the Internet happened of course. We stopped buying classified ads in the paper because they were free online. Many people stopped buying the paper itself because it was free online. And advertisers followed them online.
Just think about it.
The Washington Post brought down a presidency. And now it’s been picked-up in the clearance bin of analog history by a man who represents the very industry that killed the newspaper business – Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos.
Bitter irony you could say. But I look at it a bit differently.
Obviously something had to change or these great old organizations would become extinct. And we would be worse off without them.
Now I’m not a media consultant, but it’s clear that some things are inevitable. Like the end of the dead tree version. There won’t likely be any mass printing of papers in 20 years, as Bezos has said himself.
You can also expect new ways to pay for news. Maybe fees will be bundled with other things you subscribe to on your tablet or phone. That will take some experimenting.
But some things cannot change in the news business.
We are all just story tellers no matter how our words are delivered. And without reporters digging through files and asking hard questions there will be more corruption in government and business. And more people living in this country without a clue of what is happening around them.
And more importantly, why.
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