Media Oxpecker: August 9, 2013

Rounding up media news you may have missed while you were busy winning the week.

We could fill an entire website with everyone’s “take” on the announcement that Jeff Bezos will purchase the Washington Post for $250 million, but let’s not.

Here are two pieces from inside the building: the backstory on how the deal came together and Gene Weingarten’s open letter to Bezos, in which he advises the Amazon founder to “kick up, and kiss down.”

Jack Shafer, usually the cynic, is optimistic that Bezos is the right fit to take on the Post: “Nobody knows more about deadline deliveries and distribution than Bezos’s Amazon, which has spoiled several nations with its reliable service.”

Emily Bell called it “the transmission of west coast wealth to the crisis-torn content economy of old-fashioned east coast influence factories,” adding, “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.”

Ken Doctor does what Ken Doctor does, analyzing the newsonomics of the deal.

And Felix Salmon asks how the efficiency-obsessed Bezos will deal with the “waste” and “slack” inherent in the publishing industry:

At a large newspaper, the default mode cannot be hyper-efficient; the papers which have tried, which have modeled themselves on digital startups, have generally failed … The fact is that while you can achieve better profits by cutting here and maximizing there, you can never achieve long-term greatness that way. Greatness emerges mysteriously from the slack in the system, from source lunches and newsroom cross-pollination and expensive editorial whims. It emerges, ultimately, from the ability to give people time and space and money, in the certain knowledge that most of that time and space and money will end up being wasted, and embracing that waste as a good and ultimately necessary thing.

The news at Patch continues to get worse, with AOL CEO Tim Armstrong announcing that up to 300 local sites will be shut down and up to 500 employees laid off. The layoffs had been scheduled to start today, but this morning the layoffs were delayed until next week.

In response to the news, Jeff Jarvis wrote, “I still believe in hyperlocal … I don’t want to see retrenchment of Patch give the naysayers as chance to nya-nya us.”
The naysaying Jarvis refers to, however, might have something to do with the fact that the AOL-owned Patch, with its local sites receiving directives from a corporate office in New York, never quite fit the definition of “hyperlocal.”

Memphis Flyer publisher Ken Neill asks: “Does the Boston Globe’s fire-sale price tag mean the paper is undervalued now or was it overvalued two decades ago?”

McClatchy Washington bureau chief James Asher explains the decision to publish details about an intercepted message between Al Qaeda chiefs, while the New York Times and CNN withheld the information at the request of the U.S. government:

It is not unusual for CNN or the NYT to agree not to publish something because the White House asked them. And frankly, our Democracy isn’t well served when journalists agree to censor their work.
As I’ve told our readers in the past: McClatchy journalists will report fairly and independently. We will not make deals with those in power, regardless of party or philosophy.

OC Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano explains why the paper put “two hot chicks making out” on the cover of its Pride issue:

Whenever we have run anything LGBT-friendly on the cover, no matter how important or wonderfully written the story, pickup rates for that particular issue will bomb … Yes, putting two women on the cover making out is pandering–but if that means we’re guaranteed that more people will pick up an issue, especially an issue that they otherwise wouldn’t read, then so be it. I would love to live in a world where we could create a beautiful, thoughtful LGBT-themed cover that didn’t have to pander to the lowest common denominator, one that everyone would pick up–but we don’t.

You may have noticed we’ve been away for awhile, so in no particular order, here are a few articles that caught our eye on Twitter while we were away:

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