Not too much shocks me anymore, but the sale of The Washington Post to Jeff Bezos certainly did….but only for a minute. I’m a veteran/graduate/victim of the AOL-Time Warner merger – to my knowledge, still considered the worst merger in the history of U.S. business. Not surprisingly, my knee-jerk reaction to today’s news about the founder/president of Amazon.com buying the venerable Washington Post conjured recollections of failed promises and false expectations. An upstart Internet company buying a venerable, successful, traditional content provider? How could that ever work? It didn’t with AOL.
Today is different. We have all watched the various forms of then-emerging/now current social media overtake traditional media. We have seen myriad newspapers fold or be sold (last week the NY Times sold The Boston Globe); we’ve watched bookstores and video stores close shop (in large part, because of Amazon.com); we’ve seen advertising agencies scramble to develop new metrics; and we are experiencing a huge paradigm shift in the way people not just communicate with, but also relate to, each other.
Research is being done, books are being written, conferences are being held – and we at Loyola are launching a Master of Arts in Emerging Media degree program this fall – to analyze what all of this means, where it has taken us, how and where it will take us, and how we can recognize, harness and master change that’s occurring faster than we ever could have imagined.
Yes, I was surprised – and truth be told – a little sad when I read that Jeff Bezos is buying The Washington Post….but only for a minute. The AOL-Time Warner acquisition, in which a relatively small Internet company bought a huge content company in an effort to cross-pollinate assets, came before its time. The purchase of The Washington Post by an internet maven, on the other hand, could be happening just in time. Whatever the paper’s future under Bezos, the acquisition right now saves it from by being shredded by forces of cultural change.
by Ronnie Gunnerson
Program Operations Officer,
MA in Emerging Media