Jeff Bezos, Amazon, and the Washington Post: Despite What Some Say They’re Living Together

I recently took issue with Paul Farhi, the Washington Post’s media writer, who tweeted that, despite President Trump’s attempts to link Amazon with the Washington Post, “Amazon doesn’t own the Washington Post.”

Several days later Post senior editor Marc Fisher tweeted a reminder that “…and no, Amazon doesn’t own The Washington Post.”

Okay, Bezos owns the Washington Post and he effectively owns Amazon but legally Amazon doesn’t own the Post. I described Farhi’s tweet as lame and disingenuous, wondering why the Post is trying so hard to distance itself from Amazon when the connection is so obvious.

Digital Journalism 101: Get the Story Out Fast, Then Do the Follow-Up Reporting

Here’s an instructive example of a catchup story that is designed to make up for poor journalism without actually admitting it.

Over the weekend, you may have read that 755 U.S. diplomats were being expelled from Russia. Turns out that the 755 will be all or almost all Russian citizens who work in clerical or support jobs at the U.S. mission outposts. But that’s not the way many outlets reported it. (Not trying to single out Reuters here.)

Rich People Are Taking Over Journalism—That’s Probably Good

The Atlantic announced this morning that Emerson Collective has bought a majority stake in the magazine:
David G. Bradley, the chairman and owner of Atlantic Media, is announcing this morning that he is selling a majority stake in The Atlantic to Emerson Collective, an organization led by philanthropist and investor Laurene Powell Jobs. Bradley will retain a minority stake in The Atlantic and will continue as chairman and operating partner for at least three to five years. In a letter to his staff, Bradley wrote that Emerson Collective will most likely assume full ownership of The Atlantic within five years.

Bradley made his money by starting two companies that helped businesses—mostly in the healthcare field—adopt best management practices He bought The Atlantic in 1999, saving it from almost certain decline and fall. Below is a previous post about the impact of rich guy journalism; first a Bradley story:

Can You Believe All Those Trump Voters Think Their Guy Got the Most Votes?

The Internet is full of stories today expressing disbelief that so many Americans think President Trump won the 2016 popular vote. Most of the I’m-shocked stories, and Twitter comments, are from big city journalists. From Politico:

Roughly half of voters who said they voted for Donald Trump last November, 49 percent, believe Trump won the popular vote, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. That’s compared to 40 percent who say Democrat Hillary Clinton won.

Overall, a majority of voters, 59 percent, believe Clinton won more votes than Trump, but 28 percent believe Trump won more votes.

Trump Again Lures the Media Into Reacting in the Worst Possible Way

Donald J. [email protected]
Is Fake News Washington Post being used as a lobbyist weapon against Congress to keep Politicians from looking into Amazon no-tax monopoly?

Paul [email protected]
Couple, three facts here: 1. Amazon doesn’t own the Post; 2. Have never heard Jeff Bezos order up a story; 3. http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/29/technology/amazon-sales-tax/index.html

Paul Farhi is the media columnist of the Washington Post and in entering President Trump’s wrestling ring he’s pulling the newspaper down to Trump’s level. Some facts:

1. Amazon doesn’t own the Post. Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post and Jeff Bezos is Amazon. Bezos and Amazon are one and the same.

Writing for Television: “Somebody has to die that the audience likes”

From a Washington Post obit today on actor John Heard:

He earned an Emmy nomination in 1999 for playing Vin Makazian in “The Sopranos,” a role he said he got after running into series star James Gandolfini in a gym. His time on the show ended like it did for many other “Sopranos” actors—with his character’s death.

Mr. Heard said he approached series creator David Chase and said, “’Why me? I’m a detective! You can use me forever!’ And he told me, ‘John, there’s a rule in television. Somebody has to die that the audience likes.’

Was the “Women Can’t Fight” Headline a Mistake? Would You Use It Again?

A lawyer, Richard Mattersdorff, who read the recent post about “A Three-Word Headline From 1979 That Continues to Cause Headaches for the Writer of the Story” asks two lawyerly questions: So was the headline a mistake? Would you use it again?

The headline certainly was the Washingtonian’s doing—the writer, Jim Webb, didn’t know “Women Can’t Fight” would appear on his 7,000 word story and he wasn’t happy about it. Was it a mistake? It certainly brought attention to the story and increased its readership by many thousands.

A Three-Word Headline From 1979 That Continues to Cause Headaches for the Writer of the Story

Marine Platoon Commander Jim Webb in Vietnam.

When magazines write headlines for stories, the writer is sometimes involved but usually the magazine’s editors decide what headline will work best, given the layout, without any input from the writer. That’s what happened in November 1979 when the Washingtonian published a 7,000 word essay by Jim Webb about why he didn’t think women should serve in combat situations.

Webb had been sent to Vietnam after graduating from the Naval Academy in 1968. He served as a Marine platoon commander and was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts for his actions in combat.

Alexa Is Kind of Sexy But She’s the Equivalent of a Really Dumb Blonde

My wife Jean is a techie—she has all the popular devices from Apple and Amazon—and on Amazon Prime Day she couldn’t resist buying the Amazon Echo for $90, half the regular price. The tall black cylinder speaker answers to the name Alexa and you can ask her questions. Alexa, what’s the weather forecast today? And she answers.

Alexa now sits on our kitchen counter and mealtime conversations are interrupted by Jean deciding to ask Alexa something. Alexa, what are the chances of President Trump not finishing his term? It’s having a third person at the table.

Editing 101: Three Words That Put Stop Signs in a Story

As an editor, I liked to imagine the reader out on the open road, going 70 miles an hour in a convertible. One job an editor has is to not let the writer put stop signs on that road.

A stop sign I encountered almost every month at the Washingtonian was the use of “former” and “latter” in a story. An example:

“Robert Samuelson and Michael Gerson are the two most interesting, least predictable columnists on the Washington Post op-ed page, but the former surprisingly attracts more reader comments than the latter.”

Just repeating the names would make it easier for the reader.