The Washington Post’s New Owner and Other Fascinating News on the Web

August 6, 2013

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Evan Vucci / AP

An American flag, left, and a District of Columbia fly outside the Washington Post building in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013.

  1. Amazon Founder Buys The Washington Post

    Scheduling Note: NextDraft will not be published on Wednesday. See you back here on Thursday…

    When The Washington Post first launched an online version of their newspaper in 1996, most people probably saw it as an interesting experiment that would be viewed by a small slice of the population. The debut of the site took place just about year after Amazon sold its first book. Those moments can be placed in historical context with the news that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has purchased the Washington Post for $250 million. Big media spent years covering the emergence of the digital era, but for a variety of reasons, many major brands haven’t been been able to adapt quickly enough to avoid dramatic drops in the value of their entities. The Boston Globe just sold for $70 million (twenty years ago, it sold for $1.1 billion). A couple years ago, WaPo sold Newsweek for a buck (and we now know it was overpriced). Newspaper owners had to face a weak economy and the fact that advertising dollars weren’t moving online as fast as eyeballs. But could publishers have moved more quickly to make changes? Should they have seen the writing on the web? One of the key ironies of this era is that our appetite for information has increased as the value of those entities that provide the content has decreased. I think we’ll see a shift in that reality in coming years. The trick for newspapers will be to survive long enough to experience that shift.

    + Here’s Bob Woodward on the deal: “It’s very sad. But if there’s somebody who can succeed, it’s Bezos.” Consider how much media times have changed since Woodward and Bernstein covered Watergate. Forget underground garages. A modern day Deep Throat would have released his information via Twitter. Who could resist all those followers?

    + “This was just plain sad. Now we belong to a guy who is so rich that the paper is around one per cent of his net worth.” The New Yorker’s David Remnick on Donald Graham’s choice.

    + Here’s Bezos’ letter to the employees of the Washington Post.

  2. Why Fast-Food Worker Wages Aren’t Enough

    “Forty years ago, there was no expectation that fast-food or discount-retail jobs would provide a living wage, because these were not jobs that, in the main, adult heads of household did. Today, low-wage workers provide forty-six per cent of their family’s income. It is that change which is driving the demand for higher pay.” James Surowiecki explains why so many people suddenly care that the pay is too damn low.

    + In some countries, McDonald’s pays its employees more than $15 an hour. But the company  still manages to make a profit. Here’s how.

  3. Holocaust Survivors Live Longer

    We constantly hear about the damage that stress can do our health. So one would assume that anyone who survived something as traumatic as the Holocaust would take a serious hit to their lifespan. But a recent study found just the opposite. “Men who’d survived the Holocaust lived longer — significantly longer — than their peers who’d never been under Nazi oppression.”

    + “The night the SS rounded up the Jews of his ghetto, 18-year-old Yosel Epelbaum crawled on his hands and knees to a nearby forest soon to be engulfed by winter.” If you’re interested in learning more about one amazing survivor, check out my dad’s book called Taking Risks.

  4. In Defense of Staying Home

    “Some days I don’t leave my apartment. Indeed, it’s not uncommon for a few days to go by without my feet touching a sidewalk even once.” Pacific Standard’s Paul Hiebert wonders how long it will be until he never has to leave the house again.

    + Quartz: If you think cybercrime is scary now, just wait until hackers can control and monitor every object in your environment.

    + Can your toilet be hacked? If it is, at least you’ll be in a reasonably good position to fight back.

  5. W on the Mend

    Former President George W. Bush had a stent inserted during a heart procedure after doctors found a blockage in one of his arteries. He’s expected to head back home tomorrow.

  6. Embassy Closings and Recent Prison Escapes

    This week’s embassy closings and increased terror chatter could be related to a series of prison escapes that have taken place recently. FP takes a look at one of those escapes and what it might mean for the United States: How al Qaeda broke hundreds of bad guys out of the world’s most notorious jail.

  7. How to Write Blockbusters

    “We live in a commercial world, where you’ve gotta come up with ‘trailer moments’ and make the thing feel big and impressive and satisfying, especially in that summer-movie-theater construct. But ultimately I do feel — even as a purveyor of it — slightly turned off by this destruction porn that has emerged and become very bold-faced this past summer. And again, guilty as charged. It’s hard not to do it, especially because a movie, if properly executed, feels like it’s escalating.” From NY Magazine: Star Script Doctor Damon Lindelof Explains the New Rules of Blockbuster Screenwriting.

    + Action on Twitter can, in some cases, spike TV ratings. Welcome to the virtual living room.

    + “The qualities that Mad Men has, 20 years or 10 years ago, would have been in the movies. Breaking Bad would have been a movie.” In the Morning News, Martin Connelly takes a look at TV writing in an age when shows are being compared to novels: Adjusting the Picture.

  8. Life Illustrated

    Sports Illustrated writer Richard Deitsch asked his Twitter followers to share a photo of the single, greatest moment of their lives. He got some pretty cool responses.

    + Many of the shots from the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest are truly amazing. InFocus Alan Taylor has a fantastic collection of some of the best photos.

  9. A Different Class of Toxins

    How can you tell if someone is rich? One way is to measure the various toxins and pollutants they have in their body. From Quartz: The rich really are different: Their bodies contain unique chemical pollutants. I really have to stop eating so much Gray Poupon.

  10. The Bottom of the News

    If you are going to perform a public proposal in front of thousands of people at a baseball game, here’s an important tip: Be sure the other person is going to say yes.

    + The stories behind 22 classic album covers. And musicians who don’t seem to age.

    + It’s not easy to make your skateboard video stand out these days. So you might want to skate on and off of a helicopter.

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