Steven Levitt: Paper chase

August 17, 2013 

Paper chase

In his Aug. 11 column “The news about the news,” Ned Barnett opined about the implications that Jeff Bezos’ purchase of The Washington Post might have for the future of the printed newspaper. Barnett rightfully questions whether it’s “about preserving the Post or giving the titans of Silicon Valley leverage in Washington, D.C.” Bezos, it’s noted, says he plans to avoid direct involvement, but who really knows what truly motivates him? Aside from his founding Amazon, his considerable wealth and his libertarian leanings, we know little else about him or his news ambitions.

We do know plenty about Charles and David Koch, though. And when Barnett lauded the “idea of a Fourth Estate ... to have reporters and editors trained to find and assess information and who can then question government and expose the misdeeds of the powerful,” he might have contrasted with the Koches’ interest in buying eight of the Tribune Company’s regional newspapers. Clearly, their ambitions couldn’t be any more obvious.

And what if Art Pope followed their lead and bought the liberal-leaning N&O and other McClatchy regional newspapers within his sphere of influence? Would Barnett maintain his journalistic integrity, jump ship or just quietly surrender to his paycheck?

Steven Levitt, Fuquay-Varina

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