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First POST: Print is Dead

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, August 6 2013

Holy Shit?

  • “There is one thing I’m certain about: there won’t be printed newspapers in twenty years. Maybe as luxury items in some hotels that want to offer them as an extravagant service. Printed papers won’t be normal in twenty years.” That's Jeff Bezos from an interview in Germany last year. (h/t Gregory Ferenstein in TechCrunch)

  • Bezos' purchase of the Washington Post newspaper for $250 million in cash reverberated across the web. For once, the navel-gazing is justified--and revealing:

  • "This Town" is upset and flummoxed. Former Post reporter Lois Romano, writing in Politico, calls the deal "a white flag of economic defeat." John Harris, Politico's co-founder: "Holy. Shit."

  • Josh Marshall, on the other hand, offers "three cheers." He also notes that Sally Quinn, bemoaning the "end of the family owned newspaper era," seems not to realize that "Bezos is a person and presumably has a family."

  • James Fallows, commenting in the Atlantic: "We're in the unbundled era now, and serious journalism has been looking for new host bodies -- much as higher education, museums, the fine arts, etc have also needed support beyond what the flat-out market would provide….So let's hope that this is what the sale signifies: the beginning of a phase in which this Gilded Age's major beneficiaries re-invest in the infrastructure of our public intelligence."

  • Business Insider's Henry Blodget, whose company is owned by Bezos: "He's patient and brilliant and he leads by example….so, "anyone rooting for the Washington Post to transform into a successful digital business should be thrilled."

  • Lydia DePillis imagines how that might work.

  • Michael Moritz, the chairman of Sequoia Capital, pulls together gleanings from Bezos's annual letters to Amazon shareholders, and helpfully posts the full letters on Slideshare.

  • A reminder of Amazon's dark side as a tax evader and sweatshop operator.

  • And of Bezos's decision to give $2.5 million to support gay marriage equality in Washington state in response to an email from an early Amazon employee who is a lesbian mother of four.

  • Meanwhile, back in the secret state:

  • Glenn Greenwald asks if the government is exaggerating the current threat to US embassies to distract attention from the NSA surveillance debate.

  • More evidence the right-left "wingnut" coalition criticizing the NSA isn't going away: Peggy Noonan dings Chris Christie for his unwillingness to question the over-reach of the national security state.

  • State Department official testifies during the sentencing phase of Bradley Manning's trial that Wikileaks' release of diplomatic cables "had a chilling effect on foreign officials" in their discussions with US diplomats.

  • In other news around the web:

  • Tom Loosemore blogs that he folks at have figured out, through A/B testing, how to get 10,000 more people a month to sign up online to be organ donors, after they've finished handling their "motoring transactions." We repeat, a top government agency is using A/B testing and a smartly placed nudge link at the end of a related activity to get people to do something socially useful.

  • Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and sidekick Joe Green of align with Jose Vargas's Define American campaign. Note to self: must write adoring profile of next dot-com billionaire before starting public interest campaign.

  • "A management consultant in community-organizer clothing, and an underclass fix-it man with a locally tested policy pitch he can retail nationally, [Newark Mayor Cory] Booker’s running to be the social-media senator from the Twitterocratic nation of tomorrow," writes Carl Swanson in New York magazine.

  • The New York Times interactive team has produced a nifty visualization of the day-to-day movements of each of the candidates for mayor, gleaned from their public schedules. We're still waiting for a candidate who pro-actively chooses to let people track them and find out via mobile text message when they're appearing nearby.

  • Archon Fung and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard's Kennedy School has received an $8.1 million grant to study the role of community transparency and accountability initiatives on health in Indonesia and Tanzania.