Wow. Just when you think the water gates have stabilized just a bit in the still evolving media industry, along comes an unexpected flood of cash money to buy out the iconic Washington Post – sometimes hailed as the “backdoor to the Whitehouse.” The deluge of currency came from the Amazon – the one of Jeff Bezos fame.
I guess it’s inevitable that an expert digital retailer would be involved in guiding various periodicals deeper into the information age, but it seems a little further down the path than I might have expected, and so it makes me wonder just how much further the digital rampage is going to go. If it appears that the still shifting earth is no longer quaking underneath the feet of publishers, this latest twist almost seems to foreshadow even more ominous things to come.
If anyone can take the print news media and turn it into a profitable online retailing operation, then surely it is Bezos. Visions and imaginations present themselves in my mind of computer devices 100 times faster than we have now, and newly developed technologies that would allow connections to match.
But I already don’t really like the format of newspapers online as much as I do in print. And I’m not really sure I want a cashier, or a shelf stocker, in charge of investigating illegal wire taps. The worse of it is that I always seem to miss the snippets, and the comics, or maybe the editorial cartoons, or some other content that used to be filler around the edges – but sometimes personally relevant nonetheless. Although I should also admit, I get to read all that content from so many different sources that I never used to before. Then again, here come the pay walls – it’s cruel really.
If Bezos’ acquisition of The Washington is an omen to even more changes, I can’t imagine how they could do anything but be just a bit less comfortable than my old broadsheet – however fast. Of course, a 320 x 240 Blackberry screen isn’t going to get any bigger. Commercialize, commercialize, commercialize. How many ways are there to commercialize? The thought is a little bit scary.
I’ve intoned before that there will be, should be, a place for print media, even suggesting some media outlets have already gone too far ahead trying to follow the curve. They are creating a new presentation, not just revamping the old one. And there’s the point. The better the techno geeks get at monetizing the Internet, and the more capable the Internet is of who knows what else, the old broadsheet, the comfortable old Sunday paper if nothing else, really looks better and better. The convenience of the computer age is unbeatable, but the more the new media animal grows, it seems to me the more potential grows for many publishers who have the patience and resources to weather the storm.
Maybe I can’t just can’t let go. Could be the boy scout in me. When the current starts picking up, I just want to grab the paddle a little tighter. It seems we’re all being swept down stream by the rapids, but I still like to head up stream. Maybe I can find a nice backwater somewhere and wait for the rain to stop and the flood to end.
© 2013 – Jim Casey
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