Who cares about Jeff Bezos’ visit to The Washington Post?

We should care about what Jeff Bezos says to the journalists today on the second day of his visit to the newspaper he now owns.

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The story of the Post sale this summer was international news.  This web site capture is one example.
The story of the Post sale this summer was international news. This web site capture is one example.

As a journalism graduate from Howard University, I grew up reading The Washington Post as a student of the craft.

One of my professors, Bob Asher, required us to go down to the Post for an editorial planning meeting editors were deciding on stories for the next day’s edition.

My Affection for The Post

While there were other newspapers in town,  when I was at Howard in the late 1980s and early 90s,  I knew  the Washington Post WAS the standard.   Since then, other media outlets have come on the scene.  But, the Post is still highly-regarded.

So, when the news broke this summer that Jeff Bezos from Amazon was buying the newspaper,  I, like others who have been reading this paper for years, followed closely all of the developments surrounding the acquisition.

I had an opportunity to visit the Post earlier this year (in May) for an Online News Association Workshop and then was back in the nation’s capital last month for the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Annual Conference.

While in my hometown of Richmond, Va. for two weeks this summer,  I made a point to pick up a copy of The Post nearly every day.  Thankfully, the paper circulates at many outlets around town.

So I CARE about what Bezos is going to do to this paper.   But, do others?

Bezos’ Big Day

Today, Bezos is supposed to hold a meeting with the staff.    I’ve been following closely what’s been reported on his visit.

On Monday,  Bezos did his first real interview about the $250 million acquisition.  , Politico, a competitor for the Post, ran a piece about it.  Dylan Byers’ post didn’t provide much in terms of specifics.

The Guardian also ran a story about the Bezos visit. But, it was mostly just a re-hash of the quotes that came from the interview, the same info. upon which Byers based his post.

Bezos talks to staff/Washington Post photo
Washington Post Photojournalist Matt McClain captured this photo Tuesday of – Jeff Bezos, center, meeting with members of the newsroom staff on Tuesday.

Then, the Post on its Web site had a story about the events of Tuesday.

Thank goodness former Washington Post.com editor Jim Brady tweeted that his followers.  Even though he runs another newspaper (or shall I say “digital media”) company now,  Jim Brady was still my link to the latest on the Post.

Why You Should Care

The fact is whether you’re a reader of The Washington Post or not,  the acquisition of the Post is a story of concern to you if you’re concerned about the future of journalism.   Notice I didn’t say the future of newspapers.   That’s another discussion.

Journalism like the kind that Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the greatest investigative reporters ever, practice is in jeopardy.   Not a lot of people want to invest in a sinking ship.  But, is the ship REALLY sinking?

Some people mistakenly believe that because of the proliferation of online outlets that journalism is dead.

Nothing could be further from the truth.   But,  the newspaper platform is in a state of re-organization, re-affirmation and re-tooling.    Investors like Warren Buffet (who purchased my hometown paper The Richmond Times-Dispatch) last year and Jeff Bezos see a value in keeping these properties alive.

Thus,  there is a great deal of interest in knowing what plans Bezos and the next generation of newspaper owners have for our beloved outlets.

I care about his visit this week and if you care about journalism, you should too!

Got My Grocery List of Goodies I’m Seeking at Journalism Interactive

In downtown Gainesville, Florida for Journalism Interactive 2013 with a list of things to get from a two-day conference focused on preparing journalists who are on the cutting edge (as the cliche goes) in the this age of digital news reporting and production.

GAINESVILLE–  For the second time in less than a year, I’m waking up in the hometown of the Florida Gators in the very same hotel room.

250px-Gainesvillehippodrome
The venue for most of the events today at Journalism Interactive is the historic Hippodrome in downtown Gainesville. Seems like it being there will be a story in and of itself.

So, what would possess a two-time Georgia Bulldog and 10-year Alabama professor to do that?    Well,  I’ve come with a grocery list of things I need to pick up at what I see as a fairly unique digital-intensive two-day journalism conference.

It’s called Journalism Interactive (J/i).   Because of a conflict with the Convergence Conference in 2011, I only got to attend one day of the first  J/i at The University of Maryland.   So, even though the SPJ Regional was just here in March, I’m back in Gatorland to get some journalism goodies,  things you need if you’re in the business of preparing journalists.

Here’s what on my list:

An understanding of the unicorn
Apparently, I missed the memo that journalism instructors are supposed to be creating journalist/designer/coders in our programs.  Clearly I’m behind as I thought we teaching cross-platform journalism who could negotiate print/online/broadcast.   This lead session this morning ought to be worth the price of registration.

Cairo’s Connection to Graphics Journalism
I’ve never taught graphics journalism per se, but I certainly have a different view of it after reading part of Alberto Cairo’s book,  The Functional Art  recently.   A lot of stuff about how our brains work.   His session this morning should give me some goodies to take back to cross-media reporting.

Data Viz Competition
I have no idea what Data Viz is.  So, my friend Jake Batsell from SMU (who also has been to the  Convergence Conference) is goign to teach me all about it at the Teach-a-Thon this afternoon.

The lowdown on 4-D Storytelling
Ginny Whitehouse from Eastern Kentucky, was among those of us at the first Journalism Interactive.  She’s on the program this year talking about 4-D Storytelling.  I teach about preparing media message with the “4 Screen Strategy.”  But is that the same as the 4-D Storytelling?  I’ll find out this afternoon.

Instructions on how to teach computer hacking
Well, I never thought I would be teaching my journalism students how to hack.  But, Gary Kebbel from University of Nebraska has a demo on Teaching Computer hackers this afternoon.  Professor Kebbel was on the program at the first J/i talking about curriculum issues as a dean.  Now he’s into doing hackathons at his Center for Mobile Media in the town of ‘Big Red.’   Guess that’s what happens after you do journalism administration?

Pictures of Florida’s new digital newsroom
When we here for the SPJ Southeast Regional Conference last spring, there was lots of construction going on in Weimar Hall on a new digital newsroom.  A picture of the finished product is on the back of our J/i program.  So we’ll get a chance to see it tomorrow

More Entrepreneurial Journalism Insights
It’s only been a month since the Scripps-Howard Journalism Entrepreneurship Institute.  But, even as I teach entrepreneurship in my Assessing Community Journalism class this semester, Jim Brady and David Cohn, who spoke last month in Phoenix, are on the program here.  I really look forward to hearing more from them not only only entrepreneurship, but intrapreneurship (a new word for me that I introduced in class last week)

Everything starts later this morning.   This is a multi-venue event, meaning things are happening at lots of different places around Gainesville.  That’s good.   Usually when I come here I spend all my time in Weimar Hall, Florida’s j-school.   But, they’re showing us some of the other great places this time.    More to come!

So, while the hotel where I’m staying in Downtown Gainesville somehow placed me in the same room where I stayed in 2012, I’m expecting something VERY DIFFERENT as I get these journalism goodies today.  Stay tuned!