The founder of Amazon.com, Jeff Bozos stunned the world on August 5 by buying The Washington Post for 250 million dollars. He said that he will preserve it as his personal property before opening it up for the investors.
The Graham family, who owned the paper for 80 years, decided to sell the paper in the wake of the financial crises that this renowned newspaper was facing for the last three years.
The Washington Post
The Washington Post, founded in the year 1877, is an American daily newspaper which is published in Washington D.C. It is best known for exposing the “Watergate scandal” which led to the resignation of the then President Richard Nixon, the first and only president of the United States of America (U.S.A.) to have resigned till date.
The Post won 47 Pulitzer Prices, 18 Niemen Fellowships and several other awards. But the paper had been reporting losses for the last three years. Last year was the worst as it suffered an operating loss of 53.7 million dollars.
Reasons For The Decline
According to Alliance for Audited Media, a newspaper auditing firm, in comparison to last year the circulation of The Washington Post has gone down by 6.5 percent. There has also been a decline in the advertising revenues, to the extent that print advertising witnessed a loss 228.2 million dollars.
The figures mentioned above reflect the steep financial challenges that The Washington Post was facing as more readers migrated to digital formats.
This deal gives rise to an interesting debate between social media and mainstream media.
Social media v/s Mainstream media
Due to the widespread popularity of digital or social media, there has been a sharp decline in the sales of newspapers in countries like the United States of America and the United Kingdom. In fact, the Post is not the only paper to have been bought.
Recently, the New York Times sold its iconic newspaper, the Boston Globe to John W. Henry, owner of a baseball team, for 70 million dollars.
Advantages of Social Media
Thanks to various gadgets like mobile phones, tablets and laptops that can be carried anywhere and everywhere, people have easy access to the internet. Even the broadband connections are available at affordable rates.
One thing that’s evident from this is that accessibility is the key to attracting readers. Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube, and the online sites of newspapers and news channels constantly re-emphasise this point.
Another advantage of social media is that it gives us a chance to participate in various open discussions and express our opinions. For example
It has also given rise to citizen journalism wherein anyone and everyone can talk about the issues concerning the society. It is through social media that we all witnessed the success of popular revolutions like those in Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria.
Charlie Beckett, lecturer from the London School of Economics refers to new media as the biggest revolution since the invention of the printing press. He said, “New media gets rid of the gatekeeper”.
To highlight how the newspaper revenues have declined in the last 10 years, Professor Beckett gives the example of The Guardian.
He said, “It has a relatively small circulation of around 200,000 but online it gets some 10 million readers because it opened itself up to all forms of social media.”
However, one cannot overlook the disadvantages of social media. And one such disadvantage is security and privacy. The recent case of Edward Snowden reminds us of what we forget while having fun on the internet.
Software firms like Google and Facebook actually allow companies to have access to our accounts to advertise. No wonder there are so many ads that show up when we log into our accounts. But what’s even worse is that we can never be fully protected on social media.
There is no doubt that social media has revolutionised various forms of media all across the world. But I personally think that print media is any day more detailed than social media. It may not be recognised for its timing like social media, but at the end of the day, print has a stronger grip when it comes to communication.
What do you say?