In case you recently emerged from a coma, the big news in the news biz this week was the sale of the venerable Washington Post to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
It's a big deal to those of us who started our careers in the dead-tree medium of print journalism, but I fear it's hard to explain to younger journalists, who don't remember pre-Internet news cycles, why it's so significant. The Associated Press kind of glossed over a key point in its second-day analysis:
The Washington Post, like most newspapers, has been losing readers and advertisers to the Internet while watching its value plummet. The newspaper, celebrated a generation ago for breaking the Watergate scandal, has been forced in recent years to scale back its ambitions, cut its newsroom staff repeatedly and close several bureaus.
That greatly understates the significance of the "Watergate scandal," which meant the resignation of a president due to dogged reporting from the Washington Post. Would the journalism that Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein did at the Washington Post to uncover Richard Nixon's misdeeds be possible today in the shrinking newsrooms, which compete in a now-now-now news environment? I hope so.
Today's the anniversary of Nixon's resignation.
Aug. 8, 1974: Pres. Nixon announced he would resign from office - the first American president to do so. Video: https://t.co/tswIhc0Z07
— Newseum (@Newseum) August 8, 2013
What will this generation of journalists point to as its defining moment? And what role will a Bezos-owned Washington Post play?