Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos Buys The Washington Post

Jeff Bezos Buys The Washington Post

The Washington Post’s front page.

A couple of days after the New York Times unloaded the Boston Globe for a song, Jeff Bezos of all people comes along and buys The Washington Post from the Grahams for $250 million:

Bezos, in an interview, called The Post “an important institution” and expressed optimism about its future. “I don’t want to imply that I have a worked-out plan,” he said. “This will be uncharted terrain, and it will require experimentation.”

This might very well be a good idea. If Bezos is willing to run the Post like he runs Amazon — that is, on razor-thin margins or outright losses for years — this could be a match made in heaven. By all means, experiment like hell and play the long game. Maybe we’ll all learn something.

More: Jeff Bezos’ statement on buying The Washington Post.

Allbritton Sells KATV, Other Affiliates to Sinclair Broadcasting Group

My piece on today:

Allbritton Communications of Arlington, Va., which owns KATV-TV, Channel 7, in Little Rock and other ABC affiliates, said Monday that it is selling those television stations to Sinclair Broadcast Group of Hunt Valley, Md., the country’s largest television station owner.

According to Politico, which is also owned by Allbritton, the deal is worth $985 million. An Allbritton news release said the sale is scheduled to close in the fourth quarter.

I’d said back in June that Sinclair was the likely buyer, although there’s been no shortage of candidates, many of which have been scooping up other local TV properties all year. Some considered Nexstar Broadcasting Group as a probable buyer, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they kicked the tires. But in Little Rock, Nexstar controls four — count ‘em four — affiliates in Little Rock alone, pretty much maxing out their ownership here in the eyes of the feds.

The next question is, how much will this change operations at KATV? Does Sinclair bring in its own management team? How many (if any) newsroom contracts get dropped?

And to what extent does Little Rock feel Sinclair’s sympathy for the GOP? In Seattle, where Sinclair just snapped up KOMO-TV, some are bracing for the “Fox News equivalent in a local news channel.” Admittedly, this might not be as big a deal in the Little Rock DMA as it is in Seattle. Still, KATV is telling viewers that this is strictly a “behind-the-scenes business deal.” “KATV will continue to bring you the best local news, weather and sports coverage you have counted on us to provide for more than 50 years,” the station said.

Also: 5 Things to Know About Sinclair

And: Here Are Some People Unhappy About Allbritton’s Sale to Sinclair

Metered Access Model Comes to the Arkansas Times

In what’s said to be a first for alternative weekly newspapers in the country, the Arkansas Times today announced plans to install a metered access model on its now-free website, including its popular Arkansas Blog. Above, a slick video announcing the plan, which limits access to blog content to 10 views per month unless you pay a monthly fee of $9.99.

I write more about the plan here, and talk to Times Editor Lindsey Millar about his expectations for the new model. Moving from a free to paid model is challenging for any news organization on the web these days, but it could be particularly tough for the Times, whose print edition is free.* Will enough core readers decide to pony up $120 a year when most of them have never paid the Times a dime for anything ever? Millar says yes.

(*This isn’t to say there aren’t print subscribers. It’s just that the print subscription base isn’t very large. The Times is primarily a free-pickup distribution paper.)

Blake Rutherford on de la Renta, First Lady Fashion

Hillary Clinton on the Cover of Vogue

Hillary Clinton on the cover of Vogue.

Blake Rutherford, the former chief of staff for Dustin McDaniel and now vice president of The McLarty Companies, writes in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today on fashion and politics, particularly as it relates to first ladies.

The column keys off what was probably the biggest fashion event in Arkansas history: last week’s event celebrating the Oscar de la Renta retrospective at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock. Not only were Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton in attendance, but also de la Renta, Vogue Editor Anna Wintour and Vogue contributor Andre Leon Talley. You can see photos from the event here and here.

If you can get past the paywall, you can read Rutherford’s full column right here. He recalls Hillary Clinton’s December 1998 Vogue cover:

On that Vogue cover, in a picture taken by Annie Leibovitz, Mrs. Clinton wore a dress by de la Renta. Susan Sontag, in an essay that appears in her collection On Photography, wrote, “To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”

This particular photograph is embedded in our political cognizance for what it said then and what it means now. It is not too much, I do not think, to suggest that this photograph exists as one of the most iconic of the 20th Century …

You can see that cover at the right. And you can see scans from that issue of Vogue at the Political Style blog here. Heartening to know that Arkansas has its own place in fashion history.

Dale Nicholson Signs Off: Arkansas TV Legend Dies at 74

KATV: Long-Time General Manager Dale Nicholson Has Died:

Dale Nicholson, who presided over one of Arkansas’ most influential television stations for 25 years as general manager, died at his Little Rock home on Saturday. He was 74.

Little Rock ABC affiliate KATV-TV, Channel 7, where Nicholson spent nearly all of his professional career, announced Nicholson’s death on its Facebook page Sunday afternoon.

“We have some sad news to pass along … we’re saying goodbye to an old friend of KATV’s tonight,” the Allbritton Communications-owned TV station said. ”Our Chairman and former General Manager Dale Nicholson died at his home in Little Rock last night. He was 74.”

The lead to my piece on Dale Nicholson, one of last true media giants still walking among us Arkansans. Great anecdotes abound about Nicholson, the young man with the booming voice who arrived at KATV in 1962 to take a job as booth announcer. Former KATV news director Bob Steel tells of Nicholson once declaring that he could run KATV out of the trunk of his car better than ABC could program its network. Having led the affiliate during some of ABC darker, low-ratings years, Nicholson probably wasn’t far off the mark. This guy knew TV. And the long-running success of KATV is a testament to that.

If you want to get symbolic, you could view Nicholson’s passing as another sign of how the TV business continues to be buffeted by radical change, mostly in the form of the Internet, and mostly not for the better. Hell, it was just a few weeks ago that a former student of Nicholson’s, Robert Allbritton, announced his intention to get out of the traditional TV business entirely to focus on the Internet, specifically a website called Politico. You might know Allbritton as the CEO of Allbritton Communications Co., which has owned KATV since 1983. Allbritton plans to sell all its TV properties, KATV included, by the end of the summer.

But few want to get symbolic. Not Nicholson’s friends, not his coworkers, certainly not his family. They just miss their friend and patriarch, affectionally dubbed “Big Pard.” Nicholson, the young man with a booming voice, but also a mentor, an innovator, a father and a friend.

Enhance! Enhance! Zoom! Enhance!

This ain’t “CSI.” NPR this morning on how investigators use technology to sift through digital photos and video for evidence in cases like the Boston Marathon bombing:

In the nearly 17 years since Atlanta’s Olympic Park bombing, technology has transformed how large-scale investigations can work. Federal officials in Boston reportedly sifted through more than 10 terabytes of data — much of it images and video recorded at the marathon site.

Listen to the complete story here.

Also: The Verge looks at the online witch hunt for the bombing suspects and that awful, ill-advised New York Post cover photo.

Funeral Today for Journalist Bob McCord

The funeral for journalist Robert McCord is set for today. Arkansas Business has details here, which includes an account of McCord’s work to establish the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, which, despite the state Legislature’s best efforts, remains among the strongest in the country.

Above is how I first met McCord, on Little Rock CBS affiliate KTHV-TV, Channel 11, where, for a time, he wrote and delivered commentaries. I’d meet in person years later, after graduating high school, going to college and attending SPJ events. He was always an exceptionally nice and thoughtful person, and to say he’ll be missed is understatement.

The Onion Does It Again

The Onion, yesterday. A fake column by New York Post Editor Col Allan:

And yet, there are still people—literally millions of them—who actually have to ask why we didn’t simply slow down and wait until the whole story came in so that we could run an accurate, fact-checked article that didn’t exaggerate the number of dead by 9 or 10 people. To that, I say: How could you even think about accurately reporting a tragedy at a time like this? When those pipe bombs or whatever they were—I believe they were pipe bombs—went off, we weren’t wasting time making routine inquiries with law enforcement officials, or relying on the reporting of those actually on the ground, or maintaining even a tenuous grasp on the journalistic conventions of truth and integrity. We were doing what needed to be done: dashing off haphazard, poorly sourced yellow journalism that included an entirely speculative report on a Saudi national who we strongly suggested was behind the attack without a modicum of supportive evidence.

And yes, Col Allan really is the editor of the Post.


The Vanishing Bomb Suspect: How the New York Post Scooped Reality [Gawker]

Erik Wemple on the Post, “12 dead” and more [Washington Post]

I’m Moderating ‘Mind Your Business’ at the Arkansas Literary Festival on Saturday

I’m happy to once again being moderating a session at the Arkansas Literary Festival. You can read about my previous sessions here and here.

April 18-21

April 18-21

This year, I’ll be overseeing a panel called “Mind Your Business,” which examines the business end of being an author, including using tools like Kickstarter to fund projects, building interactive books as apps and marketing your work online.

The authors on the panel are Lela Davidson (“Who Peed on My Yoga Mat?” and more); Kevin Moffett (“Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events,” “The Silent History” and more); and Jenni B. Baker and Beth Bayer of “Found Poetry Review.”

Each of these authors have had fascinating experiences in publishing, particularly as business models have been upended by the web and digital reading. I’m looking forward to hearing their advice for authors looking for new ways to share their work and ideas.

The panel begins at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Arkansas Studies Institute in the River Market in downtown Little Rock.

In Which the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Tries to Bully Malco Theaters

Box office bomb.

Box office bomb.

Sour grapes much? At right, a real house that’s running in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in northwest Arkansas, where Malco Theaters has decided to stop running its movie listings in the daily newspaper because, well, THE INTERNET. And really, smartphones.

Romenesko notes it here, asking, “Does anyone still use newspapers to check movie times?” The answer is “yes” only if the last time you did so was to see when “Hope Springs” was playing and you were 60.

Otherwise, it’s “no,” because it’s 2013 and everyone uses smartphones and apps like Fandango to find where films are playing, even to buy tickets before even showing up at the theater. Imagine that.

The real question Romenesko should be asking is, “Why would any newspaper use house ads to bully advertisers?” Is this the kind of business relationship the newspaper has with all its clients?

(H/T to Larry Harry, via Facebook. See a photo of the ad in print here.)